, .»_^ ,^_:^*- * .VJ^^
Mr, & Mrs. Lee Gi:
Mr. 6c Mrs, H3^an I
NATIONAL WOMEN'S COM\'
TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
G. W. STEEVENS
WITH KITCHENER TO KHARTOUM " ETC.
NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1899, by Harper & Brothers.
MU rights rutrved.
The Story of the Case I
How Dreyfus came to Rennes II
On the Eve Ill
A Shot in the Street VI
The Alsatians IX
The Court and the Case . X
Labori .* . XI
His Comrades upon Dreyfus XII
A Drawn Battle and a Rout XIV
The Experts XV
The Confession XVI
The Defence XVII
"Guilty !" XIX
France after Dkevfus XX
3 8 3 2 9 3
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS.
THE STORY OF THE CASE.
In 1894 there was attached to the General Staff of
the French Army a captain of artillery named Alfred
Dreyfus. He belonged to a Jewish family of Miihl-
hausen, in Alsace — a family which has distinguished
itself since the annexation by its attachment to France.
Two of his three brothers, like himself, opted in 1872
for French nationality; the eldest, who remained at
Miihlhausen to manage the family factories, after
sending his six sons successively to France, finally
retired from business in 1897, and became naturalized
as a Frenchm.an also. Alfred Dreyfus was, in 1894,
thirty-five years old. He had the reputation of a very
industrious and intelligent officer; but his demeanour
oscillated betw^een complaisance and ostentation, and he
was not popular among his comrades.
In September of that year a secret agent brought
a document to Major Henry, sub-chief of the Intelli-
gence Department of the War Office; it was torn into
little pieces, and was said to have been taken from
the overcoat pocket of Colonel Schwarzkoppen, the
German Military Attache in Paris. When pieced to-
gether it proved to be a bordereau, or covering letter,
and ran as follows: —
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Though I have no news indicating that you wish to see me,
I send you, monsieur, some interesting information: —
(i) A note on the hydraulic brake of the 120,* and the
way in which this piece has behaved.
(2) A note on the covering troopsf (some modifications
will be introduced by the new plan).
(3) A note on a modification in artillery formations.
(4) A note on Madagascar.
(5) The projected firing-manual for field artillery (March
This last document is very difficult to get, and I can only
have it at my disposal for a few days. The Ministry of War
has sent a limited number of copies to the various corps, and
these corps are responsible for them, each officer in possession
of one must give it up after the manoeuvres. If, therefore,
you wish to take from it what interests you, and hold it at my
disposal afterwards, I will take it, unless you would like me to
have a copy made of it in extenso and send the copy to you.
I am just starting for the manoeuvres.
It appeared from the last words that the writer of
this letter was a French officer; it was inferred that
he was also a gunner, and on the General Staf¥.
Specimens were taken of the various officers' handwrit-
ing, and it was decided that Dreyfus was the man. M.
Bertillon, the well-known head of the Criminal Identifi-
cation Bureau in Paris, concurred. The inquiry into
the case was committed to Major Du Paty de Clam.
On October 15th, having sent for Dreyfus, he ordered
him to write from dictation a letter containing phrases
used in the bordereau. After writing a few lines,
* i. e., The 120-millimetre gun. There are two pieces of this
calibre in the French Army— the long and the short.
t A sort of frontier force kept always equipped with a view
to covering and protecting the detraining and formation of
armies during the early hours of a war.
THE STORY OF THE CASE
says Du Paty, he turned pale and his hand trembled.
Immediately he was arrested and taken to the Cherche-
Midi prison. Major Forzinetti, commandant of the
Paris military prisons, was waiting there, and Dreyfus
was immured au secret — that is, without the possi-
bility of communicating with anyone but the chief
warder. He remained au secret until December 5th.
Major Du Paty de Clam came almost every day, un-
der a special authorization from the ^linister of War,
General Mercier, to induce the prisoner to confess.
One of his inspirations was to creep noiselessly into
the cell and then suddenly throw a strong light on
the prisoner's face. All this time, Dreyfus, according
to Major Forzinetti, was terribly agitated; from the
corridor he could be heard to cry and groan; he flung
himself upon the furniture and against the walls; he
took nothing but broth and sweetened wine; he never
undressed. Yet all the time he protested his inno-
cence. On November ist the Libre Parole, informed
apparently by Major Henry, announced Dreyfus's
arrest, and attacked General Mercier savagely for an
alleged wish to screen him. On November 28th, ten
days before his trial, ^lercier made a communication
to a newspaper stating that "the guilt of this officer
is absolutelv certain."
He was brought before a court-martial on De-
cember 19th. The trial was held behind closed doors;
he was found guilty and sentenced to public degrada-
tion from his rank and to solitary confinement for life.
The first part of the sentence was carried out on Jan-
uary 5th, 1895. In the presence of a large body of
troops and correspondents of the Press, the galloons
were torn from his kepi, the trefoils from his sleeves,
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
the buttons from his tunic, the numbers from his
collar, and the stripes from his trousers; his sword
was broken, and the scabbard thrown to the ground.
In this state he passed before the men under his com-
mand. He went through the ordeal with dignity and
firmness, though to French onlookers his bearing
seemed mechanical. In a loud voice he again and
again proclaimed his innocence; but he used words
to Captain Lebrun-Renault, who was on guard over
him, which that officer interpreted as a confession.
He was taken back to prison; a month later the
Chamber of Deputies made a special law authorizing
his deportation to the He du Diable, of¥ the coast of
French Guiana. Thither, still protesting his inno-
cence, even in his sleep, he was deported.
That, until a few months ago, was all Dreyfus knew
of the Dreyfus case.
Nothing happened for a year. But in the month
of May, 1896, there appeared in the Intelligence De-
partment, where Lieutenant-Colonel Picquart had suc-
ceeded Colonel Sandherr as head, a petit bleu or ex-
press letter-card. It came, according to Colonel Pic-
quart, from the German Embassy, as the bordereau
did; it was torn, just like the bordereau, into little
pieces ; it was pieced together again, like it, and was
found to bear the name and address of Major Ester-
hazy. The card had not been through the post, was
not apparently in the handwriting of Colonel Schwarz-
koppen, and its purport, while suspicious, was not in
itself demonstrative of treachery. Colonel Picquart
began to make inquiries about Major Esterhazy,
He turned out to have led something of a life of
a soldier of fortune — had seen fighting with the
THE STORY OF THE CASE
Austrian Army and the Papal forces as well as
the French. Brought up in Vienna he knew German
perfectly, Italian well ; he was of an exceedingly quick
and lively intelligence, and curious of all military
information. His life was irregular and dissipated.
A secret agent had warned Picquart that documents on
artillery were being betrayed by an officer answering
more or less to Esterhazy^s description, and these
documents answered more or less to matters on which
Esterhazy had asked brother-officers for information.
Picquart next took specimens of Esterhazy's hand-
writing, and thought he detected in them a striking
resemblance to that of the bordereau. He showed
them to Bertillon and Du Paty de Clam, who were in
a position to know the bordereau better than anybody,
and both bore him out. Finally, Picquart looked into
the secret dossier of the Dreyfus case, which was pre-
served in the Intelligence Department. He concluded
that the most significant of the rather vague docu-
ments it contained would apply just as well to Ester-
hazy as to Dreyfus. As long as it had been merely
a question of evidence against Esterhazy, Picquart's
superiors on the General Staff, Generals de Boisdeffre
and Gonse, had encouraged him in his investigations.
But now, as soon as they detected his intention of
substituting Esterhazy for Dreyfus as the traitor of
1894, they began to check him.
Meanwhile the friends of Dreyfus were beginning
to assert his innocence and agitate for a new trial. On
September 14th a Paris newspaper stated that at the
court-martial a secret document had been shown to
the judges and not to the prisoner or the defence^ —
an illegality which would be sufficient to upset the
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
verdict. Madame Dreyfus immediately petitioned for
a revision of the case. Next, on the loth November,
another paper pubUshed a facsimile of the bordereau,
and the growing party of Dreyfusards set about to
prove graphologically that it was not from his hand.
On the 1 8th November, however, any hopes they may
have had of official countenance were destroyed. Gen-
eral Billot, who had succeeded Mercier as War Min-
ister, pronounced in the Chamber of Deputies that
Dreyfus had been justly and legally condemned.
From that pronouncement it w^as impossible to go
back. The War Office was pledged henceforth to the
guilt of Dreyfus, and the open fight for the revision
of his trial began. Picquart, who had declared him-
self against his superiors on the question, was re-
moved from the Intelligence Department — where he
was succeeded by Henry, now Lieutenant Colonel —
and sent on a mission to the frontier of Tripoli — on
the mission, he suggests, of Uriah the Hittite. He
there received an abusive letter from Henry, making
three charges against him : of opening Esterhazy's let-
ters in the post, of attempting to suborn Major Lauth
and Captain Junck of the Intelligence Department to
allege that the petit bleu was in Schwarzkoppen's
hand, and of opening and improperly using the secret
dossier. Picquart, feeling that his junior in rank
would hardly write thus if unsupported by higher
powers, seized an opportunity to return to Paris in
June, 1897, and laid his case before a lawyer, Maitre
Leblois. In September Leblois communicated what
Picquart had told him to M. Scheurer Kestner, Vice-
President of the Senate, who vainly tried to induce
General Billot to open a fresh inquiry into the case of
THE STORY OF THE CASE
Dreyfus. In the end of October M. de Castro, Ester-
hazy's stockbroker, bought a facsimile of the bor-
dereau and recognized it as Esterhazy's handwriting.
He communicated with Scheurer Kestner, who was
in communication with Dreyfus's brother. On No-
vember 15th M. Mathieu Dreyfus pubHshed an open
letter, flatly accusing Esterhazy of being the author
of the bordereau and of the treasonable correspon-
dence it disclosed.
This was the first time Esterhazy's name had been
published, and General de Pellieux was instructed to
inquire into the charges made against him. From that
moment the history of the Dreyfus case is the history
of France. The battle for and against Dreyfus went
on with ever-increasing savagery.
It engrossed the whole of politics and spread chaos
into every province of private life. The French press,
never distinguished for moderation in controversy, be-
came violent and malignant beyond all parallel. No
abuse was too foul or too absurd to be showered on
somebody who thought differently about Dreyfus. The
Jews, of course, were fair game. In a score of towns
there were anti-Semitic riots ; a boy named Max Regis
made himself Mayor of Algiers solely on the strength
of inciting to loot Jewish shi ps. The army, on the
bther hand, was daily held up to ridicule and hatred.
The lines of party vanished, and men who had been
friends for half a generation now cut one another.
I knew myself two young men of letters in Paris ; one
of them, as is usual in that hive of movements, consti-
tuted the school of the other. They were sincerely
attached ; only, unluckily, the disciple was a clerk of
the War Office, and the master was a Jew. They
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
began by hot argument, and then cooled to sulkiness.
One day the younger man went to the elder for a final
attempt at reconciliation — and saw a photograph of
Dreyfus on the mantelpiece. It was all over ; now they
do not speak. It was not that the one wished to tor-
ment Dreyfus, or that the other was particularly
anxious for his release. Dreyfus had become a symbol
— a dogma. The bitterness his case aroused trans-
cends political animosity, and can only be rivaled from
the history of religion.
The Esterhazy Court-Martial was led up to through
a maze of intrigues which read half like a novel of
Gaboriau's and half like a burlesque opera. Ester-
hazy's story, which is the more spirited of the two, was
that he became aware, through a letter signed Esper-
ance, of Picquart^s machinations against him. He
hastened forthwith to the Minister of War and de-
manded an inquiry. Soon after that he received a tele-
gram making an appointment for a midnight interview
on the Pont Alexander III. He went, and found a
veiled lady : she made him give his word of honour not
to try to recognise her, and then acquainted him with
Picquart's machinations against him.
Afterwards followed similar interviews, in the course
of one of which the mysterious veiled lady gave him
a sealed letter with the words "This document proves
your innocence." The idea was that this was a photo-
graph of one of the secret documents shown to the
Judges of the Dreyfus Court-Martial ; that Henry had
one day in the Intelligence Department seen Picquart
showing the secret dossier to Maitre Leblois and that
this photograph had slipped out; that Picquart had
stolen it and kept it over a year ; that his mistress, who
THE STORY OF THE CASE
was no other than the veiled lady, had heard him talk-
ing in his sleep of it and of his plots against Esterhazy,
and, pitying the innocent, had taken the photograph
and given it back to Esterhazy as a hold on the War
Office. Thither Esterhazy duly returned it in Novem-
ber, 1897, and General Billot formally acknowledged
its receipt. As for the bordereau, Esterhazy^s explana-
tion of its correspondence with his handwriting was
very simple. Dreyfus had procured specimens of his
handwriting by writing under the name of a Captain
Brault for information on a professional topic, and had
then traced the bordereau over selections from Ester-
Picquart on his side had a tale of machinations to
tell. In Tunis he had received a letter of remon-
strance from Esterhazy, and on the same day two
telegrams signed respectively Speranza and Blanche;
both implied that his friends knew him to be the
forger of the petit bleu addressed to Esterhazy.
He asserted that there, together with a letter signed
Speranza which had been addressed to him at the
War Office after he left, opened and preserved, were
forgeries based on intercepted genuine letters of his
friends, intended to ruin him, and perpetrated by
Esterhazy and Du Paty de Clam.
Both stories were wild enough. Esterhazy's, how-
ever, was believed by the Court-Martial, which, on
January nth, 1898, acquitted him. Picquart's story,
on the other hand, was believed by Judge Bertulus,
before whom he brought an action for forgery against
Esterhazy, Mdlle Pays, his mistress, and Du Paty de
Clam. Nor is it now denied by the strongest anti-
Dreyfusard — least of all by Esterhazy himself — that
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
this whole story of the veiled lady and of Dreyfus's
trick to get Esterhazy's writing was a fiction con-
cocted by this same trio with the aid of Henry. But
the day of Esterhazy's acquittal Picquart was arrested
on the charge of communicating professional docu-
ments to Leblois and conveyed to the prison of Mont
Two days later Zola published his famous letter
'7'accuse." Du Paty de Clam, Mercier, Billot, Bois-
deffre and Gonse, De Pellieux, Major Ravary, the offi-
cial prosecutor of Esterhazy, the experts in handwrit-
ing who had pronounced for the War Office, the War
Office itself, the Judges of the Court-Martial who had
condemned Dreyfus and acquitted Esterhazy — all
were violently accused of knavery or folly or both.
He was prosecuted before a civil jury; but the War
Minister confined the inquiry to the charge against
the Esterhazy Court-Martial of having acquitted the
accused to order. The case opened on February 7th,
and at first seemed to be going in Zola's favor. His
counsel — a hitherto obscure lawyer named Labori —
fought the case with audacity and resource. But on
the 17th General de Pellieux came forward to the bar
of the court and read the following letter from the
secret dossier of the Dreyfus case: —
My Dear Friend:
I have read that a deputy is going to make an interpellation
on Dreyfus. If — (here is a portion of a phrase which I am
unable to read) — I shall say that I never had no relations
with the Jew. That is understood. If as you are asked, say
just so, for nobody must not ever know what happened with
* The English of this translation corresponds with the
French of the original, which is grossly ungrammatical.
THE STORY OF THE CASE
That decided it. Zola was condemned, but he ap-
pealed on technical grounds and the sentence was
quashed by the Cour de Cassation, the highest appeal
court of France. After some hesitation, a second
prosecution was decided on, the ground of action this
time being narrowed down to three lines of Zola's
letter, which confined the issue still more closely to
the Esterhazy Court-^.Iartial. This second trial was
held at Versailles on July i8th and the succeeding
days. Maitre Labori unsuccessfully put in several
technical pleas, the most important being that, on
the grounds of the connection between the three lines
and the rest of the letter, the defence ought to be al-
lowed to justify the letter in its entirety. When this
plea was disallowed the defence threw up the case,
and Zola condemned by default, fled the country.
The excitement in every class was enormous, though
the triumph of the anti-Dreyfusards seemed complete.
But already, on July 7th, M. Cavaignac who had suc-
ceeded Billot as Minister of War, had made an im-
portant speech in the Chamber, which led up to the
most violently dramatic act in the whole stor}' of the
case. Cavaignac, as a private deputy, had blamed
Billot for not demonstrating to the country the guilt
of Dreyfus, and so setting the pernicious agitation for-
ever to rest. In his speech of July 7th he read out as
links in a chain of correspondence between Schwarz-
koppen and Colonel Panizzardi, the Italian military
attache in Paris, three letters, including the one given
above, quoting Dreyfus by name. He also insisted
on the Lebrun-Renault confession, which had only
been made public since late in 1897. For the moment
Cavaignac enjoyed a wild ovation. By 572 votes to 2
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
the Chamber decided that this speech should be posted
up on the walls of all the communes of France. Two
days later Picquart wrote an open letter to the Premier
offering to prove that two of the letters quoted by M.
Cavaignac did not refer to Dreyfus, while the third
was a forgery. Cavaignac countered by ordering a
civil action against him and Leblois for divulging mili-
tary secrets. Three days later still, Maitre Demange,
who had been Dreyfus's advocate at the first Court-
Martial, made public the fact that none of the docu-
ments read had been communicated either to the
prisoner or to himself.
Six weeks later, on August 30th, came the stirring
news that the document mentioning Dreyfus had
been forged by Colonel Henry, that he had confessed,
and had cut his throat in prison. It was officially
stated that General Roget, an officer on the War
Office Staff, had detected the fraud; afterwards Cap-
tain, now Major, Cuignet claimed the discovery. He
was working at night, he said, classifying the Dreyfus
dossier for M. Cavaignac, when he noticed that the
letter — which had been torn and gummed together —
w^as in two parts. The cross ruling of the heading
*'My dear friend" and the signature "Alexandrine"
was blue-gray, that of the body of the letter violet-red.
Turning to another genuine document from the re-
puted author of the first, he found that the heading
and signature were cross ruled violet-red, and the body
of the letter blue-gray. The conclusion was obvious:
the first letter naming Dreyfus had been written by
Henry, who had cut off the heading and signature
of the genuine letter and had replaced them by his
own imitations. The document had never been ex-
THE STORY OF THE CASE
amined by lamplight before, and this, according to
Cuignet, explains both Henry's blunder and his own
discovery. Cavaignac charged Henry with the for-
gery ; for a long time he denied it, but the evidence of
the two colors in the paper was irrefutable. It is be-
lieved he was assisted by an ex-policeman named Le-
mercier-Picard, who had committed other forgeries,
had been arrested, and was found strangled in prison.
Henry was arrested and taken to the military prison of
Mont Valerian. On the way he cried, "What I did, I
am ready to do again. It was for the good of the coun-
try and of the army.'' But he had a long interview
with an unknown officer in his cell, and immediately
after was found with his throat cut twice across and
the razor beside him. Whether it was murder or
suicide did not appear; but the best judges believe he
resolved to die a lieutenant-colonel so as to ensure his
widow a full pension.
After this tremendous event the cause of the anti-
Dreyfusards was for the moment hopeless. Cavaignac
and General de Boisdeffre, Chief of the General Staff,
resigned. Du Paty de Clam and Esterhazy were re-
tired from the army. Finally, on September 24th, the
Cour de Cassation was entrusted with the revision of
the Dreyfus Court-Martial.
General Zurlinden, the new Minister of War, re-
signed at this decision. In October General Chanoine,
his successor, who must have known w^hat he was do-
ing when he took office, stood up to defend his col-
leagues in a critical debate, suddenly turned and at-
tacked them and resigned from the very tribune. Be-
fore this, on September 21st, Picquart had again been
imprisoned — this time ait secret, just as Dreyfus had
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
been — on the charge of having scratched out the name
of the real addressee of the now classical express letter-
card and substituted Esterhazy's instead. This change
had actually been made in the card — Esterhazy's name
being first scratched out then re-written in a different
ink. Picquart declared this one more perfidious
machination to stop his mouth. His surrender was
demanded just as the civil action against him was
about to begin. The Court was vmable to resist the
demand, but before he was handed over Picquart
asked leave to speak. ''This evening, probably," he
said, 'T shall go to the Cherche-Midi, and now will be
the last time I can say a word in pubHc. If there is
found in my cell the rope of Lemercier-Picard or the
razor of Henry, then I shall have been assassinated.
Men like me do not commit suicide."
The Criminal Chamber of the Cour de Cassation
began the hearing of witnesses on November 8th,
1898, and went on until February 2nd. By a desperate
effort the anti-Dreyfusards pushed through a law
transferring the case from the Criminal Chamber of
the Court to the whole body of it. The united cham-
bers heard more evidence between April 24th and 29th.
Altogether over eighty witnesses were heard before
the Court of Paris, many of them at vast length. Dele-
gations, sub-delegations, and rogatory commissions
scoured France for evidence. Letters, reports, ex-
tracts from dossiers were put in by the ream. The
Court took note of the depositions before the first
Dreyfus Court-Martial, and those in Picquart's action
against Esterhazy, Pays, and Du Paty. Dreyfus him-
self was examined at the DeviPs Island. In short,
the whole case was thrashed out as fine as the law of
France could thrash it.
THE STORY OF THE CASE
The proceedings make up i,i68 pages. There is
no need even to summarise them, since ever}''thing
has been repeated — in some cases almost textually, in
the case of absent witnesses altogether textually — be-
fore the Court-Martial at Rennes. The important fact
is that on May 27th the Court quashed the convic-
tion of 1894, and ordered a new trial of the case be-
fore the Court-Martial at Rennes. The Court could,
had it chosen, have declared Dreyfus innocent, but
it preferred to give him back to military justice. The
grounds of the quashing of the verdict of 1894 — and
they are important as the chief points for the con-
sideration of the Rennes Court-Martial — were the fol-
lowing : —
(i) The Henry forgery.
(2) Incorrect date ascribed to the bordereau.
(3) Contradiction between the opinions of the experts in
the Dreyfus case of '94 and the Esterhazy case of '98.
(4) Identity of the thin paper of the bordereau with that
used by Esterhazy.
(5) Letter of Esterhazy stating that he had been to the
manoeuvres at the date indicated. Dreyfus did not go to the
(6) A recent police report showing that Dreyfus did not
gamble ; he was accused of it in 1894 owing to a confusion
with relations and others of the same name.
(7) The dramatic scene between Judge Bertulus and Colo-
nel Henry in the magistrate's room, when the judge told the
colonel he knew of his guilty doings.
(8) A telegram of 1894, whence it followed that Dreyfus
had no dealings with foreign agents.
(9) Another telegram proving Dreyfus had no dealings with
(10) Documents showing that Dreyfus never confessed his
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Such was the wider scope of the inquiry. The exact
question put by the Court of Appeal before the Court-
Martial was this: Did Dreyfus deliver to a foreign
power the documents enumerated in the bordereau.
Now everything was ready except Dreyfus.
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES.
*'It is Rennes?'' asked the Frenchman at the oppo-
site corner of the carriage, unwinding himself from
his blanket. 'Tt is Rennes, monsieur," answered the
little guard. At the word I woke and cast off my
moorings also, and staggered down on the platform.
I looked around hastily for Dreyfus. I had been
dreaming that we arrived simultaneously, and that I
alone detected him. There was nothing to see but
the typical French railway station, with its complete
roof and low concrete platforms, its walls naked of
advertisement, and general air of cold, formal civiliza-
tion. Ludgate Hill is a picturesque barn compared
with the ordinary railway station of France. The plat-
forms were peopled by half a dozen red-bagged sol-
diers, a blue- jacket or two on the way to Brest, an
apple-cheeked peasant girl or two, and a most heavenly
smell of hay.
No matter, I was in the emotional centre of France.
Here, if anywhere, there would be something to see
and feel. I set forth into the town with a thrill.
It was four o'clock, dawn had broken half an hour
ago. It was quite light, with the sober, unillusioned
light that precedes sunrise. I looked out for the keen
little knots of journalists, gendarmes, anti-Semites,
Dreyfusards, and secret agents, who, as I knew,
keep Argus-eyes on Rennes railway station from mid-
day to midnight and on to midday again. There was
apparently not a single journalist, gendarme, anti-
Semite, Dreyfusard, or secret agent in the place.
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Nothing at all except the smell of hay and a fluff of
rosy clouds and one commissionaire methodically
balancing my baggage on a mail-cart. For the rest
Rennes was sheer silence and sleep-blind windows
and dumb cobblestones. For the moment I was the
life of Rennes, the emotional centre of France.
But it will wake up presently, I said. For the mo-
ment the Dreyfusards and the anti-Dreyfusards are
taking much-needed rest. So I went to bed and woke
up again at eight, sprang to the window, and Rennes
was, if anything, a trifle sounder asleep than before.
It was, on the whole, the least excited-looking town
I ever saw.
The hotel looks on to a broad street, with a river
flowing down the middle of it. From its rigid, stone-
walled, iron-railed banks you would judge it a canal,
but I am assured it is a river. On its sepia-green
water floated a barge, piled up with ladders and planks
and scaffold-poles, laboriously towed by three men in
webbed cross-belts. Down the twenty feet from street
to river led flights of steps here and there, and at the
bottom women were washing clothes. The back-
ground of this simplicity was such dignified house-
architecture as even the provinces of France never
fail of — tall, large-windowed, stucco-fronted houses,
with high-gabled, gray-slated roofs — houses that con-
vey an air of space and comfort and attention to the
amenities of life. But the shutters were all closed
against the morning sun, the great doors yawned black
and cavernous, but nobody passed in or out. Not a
single "Conspuez" broke the silence. And was this
It was; and that a very clean, leisurely, character-
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES
istic, altogether charming bit of provincial France.
The first striking difference from an EngHsh country
town is the size of the houses, their look of airy com-
fort, and the unearthly cleanness of everything. An
English town of the size would display one uneven,
bending, irregularly and dingily picturesque high
street, with shop-fronts elbowing each other aside,
and a sky-line here four stories high, here two. Here
five stories is almost the rule in the main streets, and
the stories are themselves higher. The windows rise
from floor to ceiling. The stucco might be washed
daily, and the square-paved, rough stone streets —
abominable for riding or driving or walking — look as
though there were no such thing as smoke or mud
or any kind of dirt in the world. The straw-hatted
workmen or bare-headed workwomen move with easy-
minded slowness. It has all the consciousness of
civilization that distinguishes France — the town of a
people that has long since learned, as we shall never,
to make its first business the agreeable living of life.
Embedded in the suave eighteenth-century amenity
are little bits of old Rennes. There is the city gate
whereby the Grand Dukes of Brittany used to enter,
with defaced escutcheons, with beetle-browed garrets
over the arch, and a tiny, slant-roofed, latticed, wooden
hutch — derelict from the Middle Ages, when rooms
were not built to move in — crouching at its feet. Here
you see the over-reaching stories of an old house prop-
ping itself between the severe lines of two new ones;
there, in a court, an open-fronted, wooden, pagoda-
built concierge's lodge that might have come straight
from India. Between the relics puff light street rail-
way trains — goods trains, mark you, down the main
THE TRAGEDY OE DREYEUS
street — and electric tramcars hoot, for nowhere is in-
dustrial civilization more brutally utilitarian than in
aesthetic France. Dreyfus returning
True: I was forgetting Dreyfus. This was June
28th. He was to arrive, said all but official sources,
to-night or the first thing to-morrow morning. The
enterprise of French and English newspapers had
glutted the hotels with correspondents and artists and
the operators of the cinematographs. We waited for
the great moment of the arrival — waited and waited.
"Any news?" was the morning salutation, and there
were only two variants in the answer: either *'No" or
"1 have just heard from a good source that Dreyfus
has arrived.'' The partisans on each side in the town
were organizing and counter-organizing, libelling and
boycoting, but nothing appeared on the surface.
Everybody was straining every nerve upon waiting —
waiting with fierce and concentrated energy.
The strategetic waiting-point was about a quarter of
a mile of road between the railway station and the
military prison. Little crowds — a dozen is a crowd in
Rennes — gathered to look at the gate through which,
it was by now decided, Dreyfus would not pass from
his cell to the trial. Others, especially we corre-
spondents, put in an occasional sentry-go round the
prison to make sure that an incalculable Government
had not moved it somewhere else in the last half hour.
It was uninteresting enough to look at — a high stone
wall, with a shapeless stone building rising above it.
But the intriguing fact about it was that the yard had
two gates, and who could tell through which they
would take him? It was some relief to the strain of
this uncertainty that they were within ten yards of
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES
each other, so that it was possible for an active man to
watch both at the same time. Yet more exciting was an
oblong bit of building whence three barred second-
story windows appeared above the wall. One (or two)
of these lit Dreyfus's cell, and the other two (or one)
Du Paty de Clam's. But which — O, spirit of jour-
nalism, which?* In this same strategetic line, by good
luck, was Mme. Godard's house, where Mme. Dreyfus
was to stay.
Meanwhile Mme. Godard — who did not know Drey-
fus or anybody to do with him, and had taken in his
wife out of sheer generosity when everybody else was
afraid — was the public character of Rennes, of France,
of Europe. That being so, you will readily believe
that she might sit for the absolute type of the middle-
class French old lady. Small, soft, silver-haired, a trifle
wizened, with a slightly projecting under-lip, bustling
in manner, gently decided and rapid though a little
lisping in speech, breathing homely kindness and
energy in every word and gesture — you nave seen her
on the stage a hundred times. But she was indirectly
concerned with Dreyfus, and therefore the heroine of
one half of France and tne she-devil of the other.
I went there with a friend: she was just going out,
and we exchanged, between the three of us, about
twenty quite ordinary sentences. We came out just
as she drove away. Round the gate, staring pas-
sionately at the back of the carriage, stood a huge
crowd — at least twenty. A decorated journalist walked
* As a matter of fact, neither ; Du Paty de Clam was being
tried at the moment, but was acquitted on the ground of act-
ing under orders from his superiors.
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
quickly up and asked where she was going. One or
two enthusiasts ran after the carriage. Truly we live
in stirring times.
I, too, must be up and doing — must brace up and
go out and wait. The prison gate clamoured to be
June 30th, and we are still waiting for Dreyfus.
I am not quite sure whether, historically speaking,
I have been here two days or three. Spiritually I have
been at Rennes nearly all my life. I can hardly re-
member what happened at the station when I arrived ;
and I look back at myself in Holborn Viaduct Sta-
tion last Tuesday — ye gods, how young I was last
Tuesday ! — as it were through the wrong end of a mile-
long telescope. Such endless vistas of empty time,
such wilderness of nothing, divide me from last Tues-
day. Shall I ever see a Tuesday again?
I seem to know Rennes by heart, every feature of
it. The spotless, empty streets; the distant hoot of
empty tramcars; the brown-cheeked Breton women,
in their little flat white lace caps, kneeling in little
boxes in the river, and beating dirty linen on drawing
boards with butter patters, the closed doors of the
railway station, the blank walls of the prison — I have
grown up and grown old among them all. Corre-
spondents of papers in Paris and Chicago, in Madrid
and Helsingfors, unheard of yesterday, are to-day my
oldest friends. I no longer even smile at the spectacle
of a score of intelligent men patrolling empty streets
through the hours of sleep on the chance of seeing
for ten seconds a man whom they would not know if
they did see him, and who, if they did know him,
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES
would not matter. In forty-eight hours Rennes has
brought me to this, that I give my whole life to the
elaborate and conscientious execution of nothing, and
no longer feel a fool.
It is all the eternal instinct of sport, of emulation, of
gambling. Implanted in man by an ironical Creator
it leads him ever to expend infinite effort and infinite
patience, on ends which are only not utterly insignifi-
cant because of this very effort and patience that man
lavishes on them. This Dreyfus hunt of ours is on
the exact level of a dumpling-eating competition, or
of betting on the color of the next horse that turns
into St. James's Street. It is no earthly good to
Dreyfus or to France or to you — [There goes that
cavalry subaltern again. He rides up the street every
day at a quarter to three, and back again at a quarter
to four; I suppose he has been doing it since the crea-
tion of the world] and least of all is it any good to us.
But because we have begun it, and the others do it,
we all do it, and go on doing it.
In this desert of waiting, the one oasis — the arrival
of Madame Dreyfus — attained the rank of a public
event of first-class importance. When the unfortunate
woman arrived one afternoon in Rennes, she found
the station quite full of men and women waiting to
look at her. On the platform were the Director of the
Political Police and his second-in-command, the Pre-
fect, the whole Press of Paris and of most of the
civilized world. Outside the station was a crowd of
a couple of hundred or so — I suppose the vastest as-
sembly of human being Rennes ever saw. Between
them walked the dolorous procession of wife and re-
lations to the shelter of Madame Godard's. "Hisses
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
resound,'' said the local anti-Dreyfusard organ next
day, "a. few are found who raise the hat before the
wife of the traitor." "Hats fly off," said the local
Dreyfusard organ; *'a few were found who hiss the
symbol of suffering womanhood." As a matter of
fact nobody much was found who did anything but
stare. After the garden gate was shut a man's straw
hat was visible above it; I do not know whether or
not there was a head beneath the hat, but Rennes and
Paris and good part of the world stared at it con-
scientiously for half an hour.
As for Dreyfus, whom we were there for, there was
no reason why, for all our vigilance, we should see
him come, if the authorities did not wish it, or even
why he should come just now at all.
Our only hope was in the dramatic instincts of the
French ofificials. The French official could not waste
his Dreyfus. A closed carriage drives rapidly up to
the prison at the dead of night — four cloaked figures
inside, two on the box. One springs down, goes
swiftlv to the postern and utters a pass-word. The
double gate springs open, the carriage wheels and
clatters in, the gates roll back — Comme ca! Bravo,
Messieurs the authorities!
It was the object, therefore, of the journalistic world
— which appeared to be about 95 per cent, of the
population of Rennes; you assumed that every man
you met in hotel or cafe was a journalist — to be on
the spot at this sublime moment. With this view we
employed our day as follows.
The morning hardly counts; in this kind of Hfe the
morning is really the end of the day before. We re-
ally begin to live about breakfast time, which is twelve
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES
o'clock. We go down to the dining-room of the hotel
and enter with a polite obeisance to the company.
There are a few ladies, a couple of ofhcers, some
townspeople, and a student or two. At ordinary times
I imagine they form little islands at the big centre
table and the round side tables; but in these days the
intervening space is overrun and fused with a lava of
"Good day, confrere. Any news? They say that
this man has arrived during the night. He would be
in the prison now. But I, I do not believe it."
**Nor L It will be for to-night. Listen! I have
learned that the Commissary of Police left yesterday
in the direction of Brest by the train due — "
And so on. In the intervals we are fed with a most
enormous meal of radishes, anchovies, cold veal — cold
veal by way of an appetiser! — fish, eggs, ragout of
mutton and haricot beans, beef steak and potatoes, a
sort of Breton junket and sugar, cherries and green
almonds. That over we stagger out to the cafe.
Confreres from other hotels drop in; we read the
papers and talk. We talk of the arrival of Dreyfus.
As soon as digestion allow^s, we start off by single twos
or threes to look at the prison, to look at the railway
station, to look at Madame Godard's. All these thor-
oughly looked at, the keener spirits steal away to in-
terview, if possible, the brother-in-law of Dreyfus, the
friend of Madame Godard, the man who knows the
leader of the local Anti-Dreyfusards, the gendarme on
guard at the railway station. The slacker sort sit, as it
seems to me, outside the cafe all the afternoon, occa-
sionally rising to go to the telegraph office, which was
providently built next door to the cafe, to send to their
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
papers a short article on the return of Dreyfus. For
me, I return to the hotel to write.
[Here comes that cavalry subaltern again. I sup-
pose he has been to the end of the world and back
I go out to the cafe again. The confreres are there,
if possible, in greater numbers than ever. There is a
band playing — I feel as thougn I had known the lady
who takes round the napkin-covered plate in a pre-
vious existence — but there is nothing to drink except
sticky, sweet syrups, which are bad for the body, and
vermouth, which is bad for the soul, and absinthe,
which is bad for both; and there is nothing to do
but talk — an occupation I detest. Presently, thank
Heaven, it is dinner-time — soup, anchovy, cold veal,
fish, duck, mutton, beef, chicken, pudding, ice, maca-
roons, strawberries, cherries, and green almonds.
Out to the cafe again. Again the band is playing
and the lady taking round the plate and wrapping up
our talents in a napkin. Cofifee, cognac, tobacco, talk.
At eleven or so the Anglo-American part of the com-
pany goes to the cafe chantant', to the more experi-
enced French it is so dull that it is even duller than
the cafe. There is a large room with plenty of gas,
a stage with a faded scene apparently representing
Fujiyama or the Bay of Naples or something, and a
lady singing a song of which I can only understand
the refrain — rum-tum-tum, rum-tum-tum. Will no one
tell me what she sings? Certainly they will, most
readily, and then I understand that my curiosity was
almost indelicate. Grouped about the room are about
eight ladies in skirts and portions of bodices; every
now and then one of them disappears through a door,
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES
appears on the stage and sings a song. The only per-
son that really interests me at the cafe chantant is the
orchestra. He is a solitary pianist in a cloth cap, which
he never takes off. I should say he was young from
the look of his back, but he never turns round. He
never speaks or moves or looks at the stage or even
shifts his cap; he just accompanies, like a machine.
I wonder whether he knows that, bamng the perform-
ers, there are not ten people in the place, and of those
By now it is near twelve, and the real Dreyfus hunt
begins. Some have long installed themselves in a
cafe near the station, but about this time the cafe peo-
ple want to go to bed. So out into the street turns
everybody — and waits. The few last inhabitants stump
up the street singing and disappear. Silence comes
down over the town. We stroll slowly round and
round and round the prison. Not a soul, not a sound.
Yes, what is that in the dark o-ateway? There emerge
three cloaked mysterious figures. Hist! Where are
they going? Who are they? One turns and moves
as if to speak. "Bon soir, confreresT falls cheerfully
on the darkness.
Round again, round again, round and round and
round. A sound of voices falls on the ear; it is only
a group of confreres exchanging calculations as to the
probable speed of a special train from Brest — or else-
where — to Rennes. But hark! there is the rattle of
a carriage : on these paving-stones you can hear it the
other side of the town. Nearer and nearer — ah, it has
turned of? — no, it is coming down here; there is the
lamp. This way! It is going straight for the prison
door; run, or you will miss him. It stops at the very
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
gate; a cloaked figure springs nimbly out. ''Bon soir,
confreres r he affably remarks.
It will be for to-morrow.
* * * :i=
"At last! This time it is official. It will be for to-
night at two o'clock."
From confrere to confrere ran the joyful news. At
last he really was arriving, and in future there would
be a reasonable chance of sleep at night. Before din-
ner, as we sat in the everlasting cafe, there came fresh
confirmation in a huge black paragraph in one of the
local newspapers. He was coming from the direction
of Lorient by a special train, arriving at 2.4. Why
they, being but journalists, should know better than
we, I cannot say; but they had the moral advantage
of being in print first. Everybody was now quite cer-
tain. The confreres girded themselves for a final vigil.
Nor was it the Press alone. Before this fateful Fri-
day we had had the town and the night to ourselves.
But when at nine or so, we arrived at the little cafe
chantant opposite the railway station — it was too risky,
we told ourselves, to go to-night to the usual one in
the town — it was doing such business as surely was
never done in Rennes before. Every table was full:
the steam of drying clothes — it was raining cats and
dogs outside — filled the place with the climate of a
Such of the company as were not journaHsts were
mostly students — the wonderful student of France, so
wildly opposed to all our ideas of an undergraduate.
The French student will wear, and think nothing of
it, a frock-coat unbuttoned off a green and violet
checked shirt, bicycling knickerbockers, and yellow
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES
buttoned boots; the loose loops of his tie cover his
whole chest; his hat will be white and brown plaited
straw, with a red and black ribbon bearing a firmament
of black and red stars. His untrimmed beard makes
him look thirty instead of twenty-two, which he is;
and his clay pipe suggests that he hopes to be taken
for a working man. None the less, he is a courteous
and good-hearted gentleman, and a very prince of
hospitalit>'. So for that matter, to French stranger
and foreign stranger alike, is every inhabitant of
Rennes I have met.
The parboiled crowd lent but a languid ear to the
performers, though the plate which each brought
round after each effort was filled with pennies beyond
the dreams of benefits. All applauded with one ear
cocked to the splashing of the rain outside. From
time to time one would rise and mysteriously disap-
pear, returning in twenty minutes with a dutiful air
that suggested a visit to the telegraph office. The
slacker of us were content with the eternal talk on the
eternal subject. Perhaps he will be before his time;
we must leave nothing to chance. Will he come to
the station, to the arsenal, to the little gate by the
barracks of the loth Cavalry, to some place down the
line? Better follow the Figaro; he is sure to know.
Better follow the Temps. The Matin, too, has good
information. Better concentrate on the prison. Only
at which gate?
Let us take a turn now and see if anything is mov-
ing. Was there not a rumour after all that he might
arrive as early as eleven? It was still raining, though
less resolutely. Round and round the block of build-
ings we patrolled; there was not a light within nor a
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
sound; only from the neighbouring tan-yard a dog
howled violently. Round the whole circuit — perhaps
a quarter of a mile of irregular quadrangle — there was
no sign, except other prowlers on the same quest as
ourselves. But what is that? Tramp, tramp, tramp —
a squad of gendarmes emerging from a by-street and
patrolling also. Now last night and the night before
there was never a sign of a gendarme; surely that
must mean business.
Minutes drip by with the rain ; a quarter of an hour
becomes a half. Nothing new — only what is that
white flash of light down by the station? Figures
start out of the dark and begin to stream hurriedly
down the road; then check one after another, and
turn back with short laughs. It is only one of the
photographers taking a flash-light picture of the crowd
at the cafe. It is the end of the evening there; the
crowd has turned out and comes strolling up the road
to the prison. Midnight, and the rain is dying off.
For the rest of the time, at least, we shall be dry.
The crowd was now complete — perhaps three hun-
dred of it. The journalists walk round unceasingly
in twos and threes; the students and the rest fixed on
what they thought a likely point and stayed there.
There are doors in all four sides of the block of build-
ings, and now, they said, a passage had been made
inside between the military prison proper and the
building where the trial will be; therefore Dreyfus
might be taken in at any one of them. At any corner
of the building a man could command two sides, as
far as the gas lamps would let him; two could com-
mand the whole, and three could signal to each other
an approach on any side. But these strategic consider-
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES
ations were only for journalists; the irresponsible
crowd preferred to keep all together. So they col-
lected in the main street, at the corner nearest to the
railway station, and smoked, and joked, and waited.
One o'clock was long past, and as it began to draw
near 2.4 some nerves began to tighten and quiver. On
other nights the wheels of a cab on the cobbles had
been as an alarm bugle; to-night the first cab brought
on a wild stampede. But that was only for the first;
to-night cabs were quite common. Each charged with
journalists, they rumbled from the prison to the tele-
graph ofBce, and from the telegraph office to the sta-
tion, and from the station to the arsenal, and from
the arsenal back to the prison again. Two o'clock;
2.4, and not a sign. Half-past, and a cab came back
from the telegraph office with news. A despatch from
Paris said that he had certainly landed, and would
certainly come. Another story, purporting to be from
the railway station, said that the special had broken
The crowd had left its first corner now, and col-
lected at the opposite one, close to the actual gate of
the miHtary prison — the likeliest place, you would
have said, if only it had not been so obvious. The
crowd was apparently beginning to get a little tired of
it. Three o'clock and half-past — it would be broad
daylight in half an hour. Already the background
of the sullen clouds was a little lighter. A cock crew
inside the prison.
Ugh! It began to grow cold with the keen wind
of dawn. Ever>'body was growing silent; the wet w^as
soaking through their boots; their feet were galled
on the cobbles. Hardly anybody was walking now,
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
hardly anybody talking. The blue-black sky was
tinged with violet now, and the scent of hay stole on
to the air. Turn one way, and you were in the lighten-
ing, freshening, chaste-coloured dawn; the other, and
you saw a silent clump oi black people motionless in
an island of yellow glare from one gas lamp. There
is always something of a miracle in daybreak — the
new light and life creeping in on you so imperceptibly
till suddenly you are astonished that the night has
vanished without warning. Here the sensation was
underlined; it was almost indecent, almost a mon-
strosity, that this black group in the garish light re-
mained just as they were last night and refused to be
transfigured with the rest of the world.
But that for another season; meanwhile what on
earth has become of Dreyfus? The change from night
to day woke everybody up to the truth that they had
waited and he had not come. What does it mean?
Where are the leading journalists? Perhaps at the
telegraph, perhaps at the station; anyhow not here.
It grows Hghter and lighter; they would never bring
him in by daylight. A cab drives up from the station,
stops; a head is put out to speak, and instantly the
whole crowd is about it. The ofificials at the station
are bowled over; they cannot understand it. The spe-
cial train that was to come — has not. The prefect's sec-
retary has gone home. And as the cab, perplexed
and frantic, clatters off towards the telegraph, there
stamp along the pavement the clogs of the first work-
Another disappointment. The merely curious had
begun to drain away with the first breath of day; now
the crowd melted quicker and quicker, till hardly more
HOW DREYFUS CAME TO RENNES
than a score were left. "Two nights without sleep,"
grumbles a white-faced correspondent. "Five," cor-
rects him one who can hardly keep his eyes open.
Well, we must resign ourselves. And yet — and yet
there seems no doubt he started. The streets are
filling up fast now with work-people and carts, yet
the prison gate is quite solitary. I will take this end,
you that; give him another hour.
As I stood alone — the one left of hundreds — and
watched the gate, it stealthily half opened. A gen-
darme put his head out, then put it back. Then it
opened again; an officer put his head out and put it
back. After all, what was there in that? A gendarme
appeared round the street corner, knocked at the
gate, went in, came out again in a moment, and went
away. After all, why should not a gendarme have
business in a prison? Quarter to six, nearly six, and,
O Lord, Fm sleepy. This really is getting too
Hi! A yell from the watcher at the other end of the
street, and he whips out of sight round the corner.
As I am getting started after him, he whips back
again, a tearing crowd at his heels. Heavens, they
are coming to my corner! I tear back and round —
and he is come!
Two carriages are driving rapidly towards me.
And the dead-walled street, ten seconds ago so empty
that you would say nobody had passed down it since
it was made, is swarming full of gendarmes. Out of
doors, down from windows, over walls, out of the
very ground, it seems, they spring and scamper. A
frantic cry from one of the carriages, and both check
to let the gendarmes get in front. The first dashes
past me, screaming, "Move on! move on!" hardly
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
articulate in his excitement. His fellows rush up just
in time to meet the crowd rushing up from the other
way. They form a line across the street, and make a
barrier of carbines held athwart their bodies. They
are all as pale as death — all licking lips dry with ex-
citement. Back! Move on! Back, back! A little
man in a sweater appears behind them, in command,
he, too, screaming ''Back, back!" The carriages now
appear again round the corner; the gate in this street
is suddenly seen to be open. The first carriage rolls
in; men jump /rom the second and rush in after it.
Gendarmes still on your toes, public still on your
heels, "Back, back!" still bawled down your throat —
and the door is shut, and Dreyfus is inside. The gen-
darmes halt and are silent; their cordon bars the street.
The crowd resumes its old occupation of looking in-
tently at nothing.
Nine hours of watching, two minutes of seeing.
But two minutes of seeing almost worth watching for
— the best conceived, neatest, quickest bit of stage-
management in the history of government. You
rubbed your eyes and wondered if it was real; at a
word you would almost have resumed watching again.
Bravo, Messieurs the authorities! We had seen
everything except Dreyfus.
ON THE EVE.
Paris was changed. There was the August stench
of the streets — less evenly spread, but even intenser
than London's. The gasping drinkers on the boule-
vards, the perspiring eaters in the restaurants, seemed
sparser than they had been. And the approach to the
Montparnasse railway station — whence the railway
train shied into the street — was like a pass when the
baggage of an army is shoving through. The only
way to have got up quickly would have been to hop
along the roofs of the cabs.
Everybody was off out of Paris — to St. Malo, to
Dinard, to Granville, and seemingly everybody was off
by the same train. At the ticket-windows the first
joint of the tail seized the occasion to discuss exhaus-
tively with the lady inside the particular kind of cheap
return which he would do best to take, and doubled
the delay by submitting each point to female relations
outside the barrier. I had a moment's horrible suspi-
cion that all were going to the trial of Dreyfus.
Then Rennes — but Rennes unchanged — if possible,
more unchanged than ever. And as after three days
there before I felt as if I had lived there all my life, so
now after three hours I feel as if I had never been away.
London? Paris? No; I have been there, but I cannot
remember them. But Rennes — the sepia-green canal-
river that runs down the main street before the hotel,
the square-cobbled, rattling streets, the bark of half-
empty trolley-cars, the brown-cheeked Breton women
kneeling on their washing-boards in the stream, the
blue-bloused Breton men hauling on tow-ropes, the
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
sauntering black-gowned, shovel-hatted priests, the
great placid blue boar-hounds, the tight-closed shutters
of the big yellow houses, the utter desolation of clean-
ness — Oh, yes, I know it all — have known it since the
beginning of time. And what an astonishing contrast
— the Dreyfus case and Rennes! If one thing more
was needed to throw the poignant drama into relief, it
was the dead silence of this dead town in which it was
The blank-faced railway station, the blind-eyed
prison, the eight-course breakfast, the sips at the cafe,
the voluble bearded fellow-correspondents — all exactly
as I left them. Except that the confreres this time are
more numerous than ever.
They filled every hotel, every boarding-house, every
furnished lodging, every restaurant, almost every shop.
On the Saturday night of August 5th they were even
enlarging the cafe. It was not a complicated opera-
tion ; the patron himself seized the shrubs in tubs that
form its outer walls, and pulled them forward into the
square until his premises were enlarged by a third.
From the state of the ground where the bottoms of the
tubs had been, I conjecture that the cafe never saw
such an event before.
The confreres themselves were from every corner of
the reading world, and they looked it. They had a
pleasant legend that Saturday afternoon that twelve
Turkish journalists had arrived and found one seat al-
lowed to the dozen. There were British and Ameri-
can correspondents who knew their business — so much
so that in a week both the leading cafes of Rennes had
laid in a stock of what they miscalled Scotch whiskey —
and there were correspondents from Sweden and Rus-
ON THE EVE
sia who neither would nor could correspond at all.
There was a Spanish Anarchist — a quiet, gentlemanly
fellow — who had made his name by firing on the po-
lice at Barcelona. There was a placid, infantile, mid-
dle-aged journalist from Japan. Every correspondent
who came from Germany or Austria had added to that
injury the insult of being also a Jew. No less than
three of them piled up the supreme outrage of being
But the French confreres were still the most outland-
ish. For the typical Parisian life is a perpetual mas-
querade; he must always be appearing as something.
One came as a bicyclist in a flannel shirt over an ex-
pansive stomach, and madame's bloomers ; he had a
bicycle, but never rode it. Another came as an auto-
mobilist, in gaiters and an oil-cloth cap; he had prob-
ably never more than smelt an automobile. A French
Swiss came as a mountaineer; you expected daily to
see him in court with an ice-axe. Several finding
themselves within a couple of hours of the sea, ap-
peared as yachtsmen. A few were disguised as Eng-
lishmen. Their ways were as wonderful as their garb.
Most of them were very siphons of frothing excite-
ment all through the trial. They collected news main-
ly from each other; they could have done just as well
without any trial or any Dreyfus. One little man espe-
cially commanded my admiration. He was never idle,
and never did an}1:hing, was always hurrying some-
where, and never got anywhere. He was like a wasp
under a tumbler, surrounded by invisible walls which
prevented him from ever getting to the place he
started for. He would spring up agitatedly in the mid-
dle of nothing, dash himself violently into the invisible
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
wall, turn and rebound swiftly in the opposite direc-
tion, rebound gain, sink into a chair, spring up again,
rebound again. He ricocheted thus off nothing for
five weeks without pause.
On Saturday afternoon they allotted us tickets in
the Bourse de Commerce. At ordinary times the
Bourse de Commerce seems to be like a corn ex-
change, except that there seems to be no corn and no
exchanging; to-day it was a mixture of the examina-
tion schools at Oxford and the gallery door of a music-
hall. In part of it they are hammering together rows
of little desks with a noise that leaves you doubting
whether the hammer hit the nail or your own ear; this
was to transform the place into a hall of correspond-
ence. For Rennes, hospitable in this as in all things,
put its Bourse de Commerce, because there was no
room in the telegraph office, at the disposal of the
Press. In another part sit five gentlemen behind a
table with lists and tickets. A swollen torrent of con-
fr^res surges in the doorway, barely restrained by a
suave little old gentleman, who assures them that if
they will only wait patiently for three hours every-
body will be served. Five by five they struggle in and
receive their passes. Parisians and provincials,
agencies and foreigners from San Francisco to Yoko-
hama, each rightly feels that unless his own particular
organ knows all there is to know the greatest State
trial of the century will be but a toad-in-the-hole after
all. Especially we foreigners groaned because we
were allotted half a ticket each instead of a whole one.
But, after all, it was France's Dreyfus trial and not
ours; we had no right to so much as a seat every other
day. The only thing was that there was really plenty of
ON THE E\^E
room in the Press seats if only it had been better dis-
tributed. The Times, Morning Post and Daily News,
the New York Journal and Neue Freie Presse had
only half a ticket; the Aftonhladet of I don't know
where had two whole ones, and, as far as anybody
could see, used neither. One lucky London paper
found that it had to share its ticket with the National
Liberal Club, a publication which did not put in an
appearance. Others were coupled up with Various,
whose correspondent was also absent.
Here was again the amazing contrast between the
straining interest of the world, embodied in its re-
porters, and that phlegmatic indifference of Rennes.
On the eve of the trial you saw nothing new but jour-
nalists. Witnesses there must be by now, no doubt;
there was one in shining garments at lunch, who could
not be less than a general, and may be as much as the
custodian of the secret dossier. Others, no doubt,
there were, but till the last moment we did not see
them. Advocates were here too ; and the prisoner was
always here in the scantily furnished cell behind the
barred windows. The back streets round the prison,
which used to be thronged every night like a fair, were
quite empty. Only the clustering journalists, one or
two at every table, one or two strolling in every street,
stood for the tense expectation of a whole civilization.
The note was silent, tight-strung expectation. The
very journalists were less full of rumours than they
were last time. The populace was made of apathy.
France — Paris itself — was all but calm.
In dead silence the curtain was to go up on the last
act of the great drama. And what a climax! We
should have all the actors on the scene — Ministers, of-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
ficers, experts in writing, simple citizens, accusers,
themselves accused, disinterested champions of truth,
relatives fighting for their kin, traitor and patriot, vic-
tim and assassin. We should have every motive of
melodrama — treachery, forgery, prison, suicide, lawful
and unlawful love, conspiracies, cryptograms, the bu-
reaux of secret services in the foreground and the pal-
isade of Devil's Island for the back-scene. The voice
of a great nation was the chorus, and the issue her
distraction or her peace.
And we were to see and hear the accused — the great-
est figure in France, which no one knows. The name
of Dreyfus is known more widely than those of heroes
and sages; yet who knows so much as whether he is
handsome or plain, brilHant or stupid, good or bad?
He is the most-talked-of-man in the world, and has
himself forgotten how to talk — the most famous man
in the world, and the world knows nothing of him.
The mighty blank! And in two days the world will
have begun to fill him in !
The Trial was to begin at half-past six. It wanted
a quarter of an hour of the time w^hen a line of mount-
ed gendarmes, pushing the crowd out of the neighbour-
ing streets, proclaimed that they were taking Dreyfus
across the road from the military prison to the High
School, in whose lecture-hall he was to be arraigned.
A moment later the line opened, and the crowd of
journalists, waving their passes, pushed through. They
jammed in at a narrow door, up stone steps, through
another doorway, round a corner, inside a cordon of
infantry, and they were in the court. It was a lofty,
oblong, buff-plastered hall larger than the Prince's
Restaurant, smaller than St. James's Hall. With
large windov/s on each side — square in the lower tier,
circular in the upper — it was almost as light as the day
outside; round the cornice were emblazoned the names
of Chateaubriand, Lamennais, Renan, and the intellec-
tuals of Brittany. At the top w^as a stage, its front
filled with a long table, behind this seven crimson-
covered seats for the judges. A white Christ on a
black cross, hanging on the back wall above the Presi-
dent's chair proclaimed the place a Court of Justice.
On the right, as you faced the stage, were a small
raised table and seats for the counsel of the accused;
on the left a similar erection for the prosecuting Com-
missary of the Government and his assistants. Down
each side of the body of the hall was a strip of ex-
temporized match-board bench and desk for the Press.
In the broader centre were seats for the witnesses,
then, behind a bar, for the favoured public. Behind
all this ran another bar lined by a guard of the 41st
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Infantry. Behind their homely peasant faces and be-
tween their fixed bayonets peered the general public,
five deep, in the shallowest of strips at the very back
of the hall.
The Press stampeded and trampled over the match-
board, and in the fulness of time sorted itself into its
appointed places. The general public shifted and
scrunched behind the barrier. The centre of the hall
began to fill up with witnesses, with officers of in-
fantry in red pantaloons and gunners in black. Behind
the dais appeared a sprinkling of selected spectators.
Then, on the waxing bustle of the hall, came in men
in black gowns with little white-edged tippets and
white bands, with queer high black caps like birettas.
Now we should see. And next moment — it was al-
ready past seven — there was a hoarse cry from behind
' — present arms! — rattle — and there filed in the seven
officers in whose hands rests the conscience of France.
The President — a small but soldierly man in eye-
glasses, with black hair and a small face, a huge white
moustache and imperial — saluted and sat down. Bring
in the accused.
Instantly the black, rippling hall is still as marble,
silent as the grave. A sergeant usher went to a door
— the tramp of his feet was almost startling — on the
right hand of the top of the hall. It opened and two
officers stepped out. One of them was the greatest
villain or the greatest victim in France — and for the
moment men wondered which was he. It seemed al-
most improper that the most famous man in the world
was walking in just as you or I might.
Then all saw him, and the whole hall broke into a
gasp. There came in a little old man — an old, old
man of thirty-nine, A middle-statured, thick-set old
man in the black uniform of the artillery ; over the red
collar his hair was gone white as silver, and on the
temples and at the back of the crown he was bald. As
he turned to face the judges there was a glimpse of a
face both burned and pale — a rather broad, large feat-
ured face with a thrusting jaw and chin. It was not
Jewish in expression until you saw it in profile. The
eyes under the glasses were set a trifle close together,
and not wholly sympathetic either; you might guess
him hard, stubborn, cunning. But this is only guess-
ing: what we did see in the face was suffering and ef-
fort — a misery hardly to be borne, and a tense, agon-
ized striving to bear and to hide it. Here is a man,
you would say, who has endured things unendurable,
and just lives through — maybe to endure more.
He walked up two steps to his seat with a gait full
of resolve yet heavy, constrained, mechanical — such
a gait as an Egyptian mummy might walk with if it
came to life in its swathing grave-clothes. He sa-
luted the President with a white-gloved hand, took off
his kepi, sat down. An officer of gendarmes followed
and sat down behind him. The recorder, rising from
beside the prosecuting officer, read out the general
order constituting the court; then the white mous-
tache and imperial twitched as the President, in a
small voice, put a question to the prisoner. Another
sudden stillness; then came the voice of Dreyfus. No
one heard what he said — thin, sapless, split, it was such
as might rustle from the lips of a corpse.
What he had said was, ''Alfred Dreyfus; Captain
of Artillery; thirty-nine years." With these three
common phrases he broke the silence of four and a
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
half years. Nothing could be more formal, and yet
here in the first five minutes of the trial was summed
up the whole incredibly romantic history. Alfred Drey-
fus — five years ago nobody knew there was such a
name in the world; now the leading comic singer of
Paris, who was born with it, has changed it because
it is too embarrassingly famous. Captain of Artillery
— and generals who have led armies in the presence
of the enemy have lost their commands because of him.
Thirty-nine years — and here were men who were
known before he was born staking their ripe reputa-
tions for or against him. Sitting within ten yards of
him were Casimir-Perier, the only living ex-Chief of
the State in which he was a simple unit ; Mercier, Bil-
lot, Cavaignac, Zurlinden, Chanoine — five successive
heads, and half a dozen generals besides, of the army
in which he was an unregarded subordinate; Hano-
taux, the Minister who for years has conducted foreign
relations in which he could never have dreamed of
figuring — all there because he was. Novelists like
Prevost and Mirbeau, essayists like Maurice Barres,
philosophers like Max Nordau, French journalists like
Arthur Meyer and Comely, foreign journalists who
linked the whole world together — they had all come to
see him. There were men like Picquart and Lebrun-
Renault, nobodies when last he saw and spoke with
them — now famous in two continents just because they
had seen and spoken with him. Most dramatic of all,
there was a little, close-veiled woman in black —
Madame Henry — a woman he had never seen, widow
of a man whom he never knew, yet who had risen to
celebrity and fallen to an infamous death because of
What did he think of such a miracle, such an irony?
To all appearances he did not think of it at all. He
sat rigid and upright, hugging his chair close with
back and legs and feet, his hands folded on the kepi
on his knees. He was concentrating all the energies
of a mind starved for five years on the answers he
would presently make to the charges against him. He
had time, for there followed over two hours of tech-
nicality. There was a flicker of interest when they
read out the names of the witnesses, and these rose
in their places to cry 'Tresent!" The curious might
see the backs of all the most famous heads in France,
But neither Du Paty de Clam nor Esterhazy, sus-
pected traitor and certain scoundrel, answers to his
name. After that short flicker comes a brief adjourn-
ment, the judges go out and the prisoner too.
It is getting stuffy in court, and we begin to remem-
ber that we got up at five. As a change from yawning,
all go out into the sunny courtyard: and here, among
gendarmes and infantry, you can look closer at the
witnesses and chief persons — a living handbook to
the Dreyfus case. You may note that General de
BoisdeflFre looks distinguished and soldierly, General
Mercier hardly more lifelike than Dreyfus, M. Cavaig-
nac, narrow-faced and narrow-chested, like a school-
master — which is exactly what he ought to have been,
and delivered aphorisms on virtue. Picquart is dis-
appointing: his civilian clothes fit him shockingly;
but presently you see that his face wears a large ex-
pression, tolerant and reasonable. There are many
more — Mathieu Dreyfus, the prisoner's brother, with
an open, capable Alsatian face; reporter-poets from
Paris—- you would not know their names — ^by the half-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
dozen, showing every cut of beard from a second mous-
tache bordering the whole underHp to a growth that
covers a waistcoat. Of the counsel, Maitre Demange,
who defended Dreyfus in 1894, looks the rather rubi-
cund yet sour type of a lawyer all the world over. But
Maitre Labori, the advocate of Zola, is the most at-
tractive figure in court. He is fair-haired, fair-beard-
ed, with something of the look of a Viking and all of
the build. He tops his colleagues by the head; his
chest is vast both in breadth and depth; in every move-
ment is that of a good-humored giant overflowing with
energy and force.
Tinkle goes the bell; judges and prisoner come in
again. The Recorder reads the Act of Accusation of
the first trial; it is long, and has been public property
for a year and a half^ — and we got up at five. But
when it is over comes the moment of the day. The
President addresses the prisoner in a voice suave yet
sharp, and Dreyfus stands up. He is round-shouldered,
yet he stands bolt upright, and looks his judge hard
in the face. A paper is handed to him — the bordereau,
at once the act and evidence of treachery. Did he
Again an instant's dead silence — and then again
the dry, split, dead man's voice. It is the voice of a
man who has forgotten how to speak, who is strug-
gling desperately to master tones which crumble and
fail him. The voice rises — half a shriek, and half a
sob. But the words you hear are, "I am innocent, my
colonel." Then the colonel's soft tones again and
more answers. The brake of the 120-millimetre gun,
the artillery firing-manual, Dreyfus's journeys to Al-
sace, a suggested trip to Brussels, his relations with
an Austrian mistress, his alleged confession — a string
of cross-examination. It is difficult to follow the ques-
tions; but after five minutes the answers are heard in
every corner of the hall. He has found his voice, and
it is thick and full. "No; no, my colonel; never; I
never played ; I do not know him ; I never said so" — the
denials follow on the questions sharpl} , instantly, eager-
ly. Now and again a white-gloved hand is raised in
emphasis, while the white left-hand fingers twitch on
the kepi. Now and again comes a sentence — precipi-
tate, almost breathless, as if he feared to lose one sec-
ond of his chance to be heard. Every moment his back
stiffens, his voice deepens, his hand is raised more ap-
pealingly, his protestations burst out more fervently.
It is a man fighting for his life against time.
The second and third and fourth and fifth days of
the Dreyfus case were devoted to the study of the
secret papers bearing on the matter. They had been
brought from Paris by General Chamoin on behalf of
the Minister of War. They consisted, as we heard, of
nearly six hundred documents, dealing with the subject
more or less relevantly. It seems an enormous collec-
tion, but you must remember that for several years the
French War Office has done nothing to speak of except
collect documents dealing more or less relevantly with
the Dreyfus case.
Four days, therefore, the eager journaUst had to
spend outside the court, for of course the secret dos-
sier was considered behind closed doors. It was some
consolation later that everything in it of any moment,
including confidential cryptograms and names of se-
cret agents, was cheerfully divulged to the whole
world. In the meantime some got up at five to see
Dreyfus march across the street from his prison to
the court; some frequented the doormats of Demange
and Labori in the vain hope of an indiscretion ; others,
less avid of excitement, were content to watch the case
from the nearest and most agreeable watering-place.
But everything comes to him who waits, and in due
time came Saturday, August 12th. We entered the
hall at 6.29 — the hall of the Lycee had the property
of everything else in Rennes, that immediately you
seem to have known it all your life — and awaited the
first witness. This was a dapper young diplomatist
called Laroche-Vernet, and his evidence at the mo-
ment was utterly incomprehensible. It was plainly
the continuation of the four days' discussion of the se-
cret dossier, ana it seemed to have to do with a cipher
telegram from Colonel Panizzardi to his chiefs in
Rome. It seemed to have been intercepted and de-
ciphered, and there seemed to have been two versions
communicated by the French Foreign Office to the
War Office. The first, a provisional one, ran: —
"Captain Dreyfus, who has not had relations with Germany,
is arrested. If he has had no relations with you in Rome send
official denial. Emissary warned."
The second, and only official version sent to the War
Office, substituted for the words "emissary warned"
the words "to avoid press comment." In the course
of weeks we saw the importance of this; for the mo-
ment the great Dreyfus trial seemed to be opening a
But next came M. Casimer-Perier. Now we should
have something! The more sanguine Dreyfusards built
enormously on the ex-President. He resigned in 1894,
they said, because he knew that Dreyfus was innocent;
now he will prove it. M. Casimir-Perier came up —
the brilliant man who never went wrong, who was a
distinguished officer at twenty-three, who was Presi-
dent of the Republic at fifty-four, who is beloved by
everybody about him — a smallish man, with an open
candid face, a very long drooping moustache, and an
extraordinarily broad top to his head. He lifted his
hand to the cross and swore to tell the truth, the whole
truth, without hate or fear — then began. His elocu-
tion was pleasing, his gestures free and attractive, his
matter — yes; what about his matter? As period rolled
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
out after period it began to strike us that M. Casimir-
Perier was saying nothing about the Dreyfus case at
all. He had come here not to say what he knew of the
Dreyfus case, but to complain that he, then Chief of
the State, knew nothing. The spoiled child of fortune
had come only to propitiate his wounded self-esteem.
It suddenly occurred to the more sanguine Dreyfus-
ards, that if he had been able to prove Dreyfus inno-
cent he would have done it, without resigning, five
An hour and a half of giving evidence; total evidence
given — none. But then came General Mercier. The
hall thrilled to silence as the neat figure went up to the
bar and took the oath. Mercier was the real prose-
cutor of Dreyfus, and at the same time he was really
on his own defence. It was certain that in sending
secret documents to the 1894 Court-Martial he had
brought himself under the criminal law. He could
save himself by an overwhelming proof of the prison-
er's guilt, and that was what his partisans were expect-
ing him to do. 'T will tell all — all," he had repeated
again and again. He began to speak. Now!
He spoke and spoke and spoke. He gave evidence
for three hours and a half and at the end we were not
a foot more advanced than we were at the beginning.
Mercier's evidence explained nothing — but Mercier's
personality suggested whole volumes. He said hardly
more than Casimir-Perier, and said it a great deal less
clearly; but the very obscurity hinted at possibilities
immeasurable. It was characteristic of the man that
his deposition dealt largely with the cryptic methods
of the bureau of espionage. And yet, though he re-
vealed secret after secret with an amazing audacity of
indiscretion, his revelation was itself so cryptic that we
knew no more of their bearing after he had discussed
for an hour than when he began. Mercier's person-
ality strikes the note of the whole Dreyfus case. Look-
ing at his back as he gave evidence — tall, straight and
slim — you could have called him soldierly and sus-
pected him stupid. On his face and neck the bronzed
skin hangs loosely. There is neither depth of cranium
nor height of forehead to hold a brain in. The eyes are
slits with heavy-curtained lids and bags beneath them
that turn the drooping cheeks into caverns. A little
moustache and beard frame thin lips that might be
evil, sensuous, humorous, but could never be human.
If you look at his head you think him a vulture; if
at his face you call him a mummy. He speaks in a
slow, passionless monotone; his gestures are calcu-
lated to follow his words instead of proceeding, as a
Frenchman's should, along with them, on the same im-
pulse. When he was interrupted by Casimir-Perier he
persisted in his assertions with the dogged mumble
of a schoolboy detected in a lie. As he sat and strove
to wind the toils of treason round the prisoner he
seemed as unmoved by hate as by pity; he accused
him dully, as if repeating a lesson. Cold, deliberate,
tortuous thorough yet ineffective, verbose but not
candid, battling bravely with native stupidity, truly
believing himself to be doing God's work, fearless of
responsibility, untouched by anger or pity, fear or
hope either for others or for himself — General Mer-
cier was the very type and mirror of a Jesuit Grand
He burrowed at once into the dossier. He had held
no official position since 1896, yet he seemed to have
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
copies of all the country's most confidential archives
in his pocket. The most important documents he read
by way of proving, first, that there was treachery
abroad in 1894, and second, that the traitor was Drey-
fus. First came what they call the ''doubt proof" doc-
ument^ — the translation of a cipher telegram of De-
cember 29th, 1893; it was from von Schwartzkoppen
to his Government. I give it in English, and, as the
interpretation is doubtful, without punctuation: —
Doubt proof officer's brevet situation dangerous for me with
French officer not conduct negotiations personally brings what
he has absolute * * * [o blank here], bureau des ren-
seignements [this in French] no relations regiments impor-
tance only coming from Ministry already somewhere else.
Schwartzkoppen, explained Mercier, was answering
a criticism that his secret information bears no guar-
antee that it comes from the General Staff. He replies
that he has got, or will get, proof in the spy's officer's
brevet, that it is better to have no relations with a mere
regimental officer, but that the only important infor-
mation is to be had from the Ministry of War. Finally
he adds that the spy has already worked for Germany
somewhere else. This last point is interesting, com-
mented Mercier, because Dreyfus is also accused of
having betrayed the Malinite and Robin shells when he
was at the School of Pyrotechnic at Bourges.
The next document is called ''the Davignon letter;"
it is from Panizzardi to Schwarzkoppen: —
I have just written again to Colonel Davignon. If you have
a chance to speak of the question to your friend, be careful to
do so in such a way that Davignon shall not know of it.
This concerned an unimportant question as to re-
cruiting, but it shows that Schwarzkoppen had a
friend in the second bureau of the General Staff, and
that the attaches did not wish Davignon to know it.
Dreyfus was in the second bureau during the first half-
year of 1894.
Next is another letter of about the same date from
Panizzardi, saying he was about to get the military
organization of the French railways. Now Dreyfus
was in the fourth bureau, which dealt with railways,
during the second half of 1893.
After that the celebrated "canaille de D — " letter,
apparently from Schwarzkoppen:
16 April, 1894.
My Dear Friend:
Herewith twelve plans which that cad D gave me for
you. I told him that I had no intention of resuming relations.
He said there was a misunderstanding I told him
he was mad, and that I did not believe you would resume re-
lations with him. Do what you like. . . .
It has been said, commented Mercier, that so valu-
able a spy as Dreyfus would not be called a cad or
told he was mad. But the higher the position of a spy
the more he would have been despised by his employ-
ers, and the more thoroughly they would have him in
their power. The plans in question were those of Nice,
which at that moment were being revised in the Gen-
eral Staff offices.
Finally were read out reports of verbal communica-
tions from a secret agent called X , who was ap-
parently no other than the Spanish Military Attache : —
March, 1894: "I infer from my last conversation with
Schwarzkoppen and Panizzardi that they have an ofi&cer in
the General Staff who informs them admirably."
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
April, 1894 : "You have one or several wolves in your sheep-
June, 1894: "An officer, who is, or was in March, in the
second bureau of the General Staff is giving information to
Schwarzkoppen and Panizzardi."
Mercier had finished with the secret dossier. Now,
in the same dry, measured monotone, he went on to the
arrest of Dreyfus, the danger of war with Germany
which led him to communicate the secret documents
secretly to the Court-Martial, to Dreyfus's alleged
confessions, to the examination of the bordereau. He
insisted especially that this document must have been
written, not in April, as was contended in 1894, but
in August. Its final expression — 'T am just starting
for manoeuvres" — would seem at first sight inapplica-
ble to Dreyfus, who did not go to the grand manoeu-
vres of September in that year. But he thought he
was going, urged the General, until the last moment.
A rule was made that year that the officers going
through a course in the General Staff should not go to
the manoeuvres, but at the date of the bordereau Drey-
fus did not yet know of this.
I am free to own that most of General Mercier's
remarks came into my brain through a drowsy mist.
I did certainly shake myself when I heard the soothing
monotone pass from French into English; when Mer-
cier appeared to be saying "I can't go on all day lis-
tening to this sort of stuff," I knew I must be dreaming
and woke up. On the stroke of twelve I was distinct-
ly aware that he had turned round in his chair and
was facing Dreyfus. "If I had the least doubt of his
guilt," said the icy tones, 'T should be the first to
come to Captain Dreyfus" — it floated into my mind
that this was almost too cruel even for bloodless Mer-
cier — "and to say to him I was honestly mistaken."
God, what was that? What is it? A yell, fierce
and poignant, the bursting of furious passion tight
pent up! It ripped the calm to pieces and you half ex-
pected the hall to split asunder. Dreyfus was up on
his feet, his body bent double, checked in mid-spring
by the officer^s gentle hand on his arm, his fist pom-
melling the air, his head and livid face craned forward
at Mercier, his teeth bared as thirsty for blood. He
looked as if he would have leaped upon him like a
panther, but for the touch on his arm. And the voice!
"You should say that" were the words — but the voice!
None of us who heard it will ever describe it — or for-
get it. Men heard it that night in their sleep. It was
half shriek, half sob, half despair, half snatching hope,
half a fire of consuming rage, and half an anguished
scream for pity. Before us all Dreyfus tore his very
heart out. He was no corpse. Henceforth all knew
what he was and what he had endured^ — was still en-
during. In six words he told us all the story of the
man from the Devil's Island.
A shiver, half excitement, half pain, raced through
every soul in the hall — except one — the Grand In-
quisitor's. The echoes died away, and we heard the
monotone, unwarmed, unhastened, 'T should be the
first to repair my error " — " It is your duty," roared
Dreyfus, in that same heart-splitting voice. The mono-
tone went on — '' but I say in all conscience that my
conviction of his guilt is as firm and unshakeable as
God, what a m — . No; not a man.
A SHOT IN THE STREET.
Mercier was the spirit of darkness ; but there was
also a spirit of light. Nearest to the audience of the
four robed figures on the Counsel's Bench was a
young man of great stature and size. As he sat loosely
on his chair, hitched his gown up on to his
shoulders, leaned forward to listen, or heaved him-
self back to loll, every motion had a vast sweep and
embodied easy power. When he stood he was a clear
head above most men in court. His blue eyes looked
out from under bushy brows — clear, big, honest eyes
like a dog's. A light brown beard, neither very trim
nor shapeless, and light brown hair just beginning to
roll over his brow, tempered strength with a look of
bluff kindliness. If Mercier was an Inquisitor, this
sunny-faced giant was a Viking. It was Labori, the
great cross-examiner. Since he defended Zola he had
given himself heart and soul to the cause of Dreyfus.
Perhaps his skill in eliciting reluctant truths was
piqued at the persistence of a mystery unfathomed;
certainly his fighting spirit was roused by contumely
to unsparing hostility. When first he had risen on
the Saturday to cross-examine, his voice was agree-
able, yet seemed too soft, too liquid for the man. But
the moment he approached a point, a distinction, an
admission, it hardened and rang like steel. In anger,
you knew, he could roar out of that great chest like
a bull. If any champion could plunge into the black
Hades, choke lies and errors and ignorance, and probe
out the truth, it was surely Labori.
A SHOT IN THE STREET
Saturday had ended with storm in the air. Dreyfus's
cry had filled all with electricity. At the last moment
Casimir-Perier demanded to be confronted with Mer-
cier on Monday. On that came a storm of hoots and
hisses from the more violent journalists as Mercier
left the court. On that a savage altercation between
an officer and a Dreyfusard on the very steps of the
Lycee, a tumult of Vive I'armee as Mercier passed
down the street, and three boys groaning A bas les
Juifs, with five hundred sympathisers looking on. And
on Monday Labori was to cross-examine Mercier!
Curiosity was aflare.
Monday morning broke cloudy with a welcome
promise of rain. I reached the court punctually at a
minute to half-past six and was going in. A stamping
behind me, a heavy rush past — and our esteemed
President of the Press tore through the line, scattered
the soldiers of the guard like a bolting horse, leaped
into the hall, bounded on to a table. "Doctor, come
quick," he roared, "to a wounded man. It is Labori."
Half a dozen of us are out in the street again run-
ning for our lives. I hear panting exclamations all
about me. ''Labori !" "Two revolver shots V^ Alone
in the middle of the street pounds a fat little man, his
fists up to his chest, and talks all to himself: "Assas-
sin, assassin, assassin!" he exclaims. A couple of
mounted gendarmes break through the hurrying
crowd at a sharp trot.
There is a blackening knot on the canal-bank near
a little bridge. On the fringe is the head of the Surete
Publique — a kind of detective political police — who
enjoys, as his calling demands, the faculty of being
everywhere at the same time. A group of journalists
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
are eagerly questioning a grey old peasant, shovel on
shoulder; he saw the deed, and now trembles to find
himself required by the law. I saw a young Jew in tears.
But most pressed to the centre of the knot, where a
woman in a black-and-white summer gown was sup-
porting something on her knee.
There lay the splendid Labori like a broken tower.
One instant had wrecked the deep-chested Viking law-
yer; lying wounded he looked no longer hugely pow-
erful, but only bulky. A mattress was beside him, but
he lay on the gravel footpath. His clothes were grimed
as yellow with dust as if he had worked in it for a long
day. There was little blood, if any, which seemed
ominous of inward bleeding, which usually means
lungs and death. He lay on his side with one arm
round his wife and his head on her lap, she stroking
his hair the while. From time to time he rolled the
wide dog's eyes upvv^ard and said a few words, faint
but quite composed.
The assailant was gone out of the town, they said,
and across country. The wounded man was about to
be taken back to his house on a stretcher. There was
nothing more to do but go back to the trial. But it
was just adjourning after hearing of the crime, and
in a moment the gravel court of the Lycee was black
and red and gold with officers and journalists and pub-
lic, all talking fiercely. Next minute all were rushing
back into the hall; an eminent novelist was about to
assault the editor of a leading newspaper. But gen-
darmes interposed and straightway disarmed every-
body of every walking-stick and umbrella in the place.
I saw half a dozen bearded men on the edge of tears.
As often as anybody came in from outside there was
A SHOT IN THE STREET
a rush: one moment the square was all twos and
threes, the next it was empty but for one big black
swarm. The first news said that Labori was spitting
blood. But presently came the rumor that it was
little or nothing. The ball, presumably backed only
with a few grains of bad powder, had apparently
lodged in the muscle of the back. If that was so, it
was only a matter of days before we saw him in court
So now back into court for our sensational morn-
ing. The President enters amid the usual clatter of
arms, and says a few appropriate words. It is surpris-
ing how the very appearance of the little old colonel
with the big white moustache makes for calm. This is
only the third day we have seen him; but we have
never seen him other than cool and impartial, full of
dignity, tact, and good temper, courteous at all times,
and firm when he must. The session is resumed.
And then, alas! we find that we have lost our best
man. Me. Labori is a fighter, and his cross-examina-
tion of General Mercier would have been in any case
a great duel, possibly have thrown light on the case.
In his absence the devil seems to have gone out of
everybody. Me. Demange's cross-examination is
damaging, may be, but it is always heavy. His method
is to make a short — sometimes not a short — speech
explaining what he is going to ask, and then to ask
it. Meanwhile the witness is making up his answer-
ing speech; and while he is delivering it, Maitre De-
mange is making up his next speech — and so on for
ever and ever.
The famous confrontation of Mercier and Casimir-
Perier goes oiT just as tamely. This is a famous de-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
vice of P^rench law, to hear two witnesses contradic-
torily, as they call it. Apparently the idea is that a
man who told a lie when another man was sitting be-
hind him will tell the truth when he is standing beside
him. So the ex-President and the ex-Minister of War
stand up and make alternate short speeches. You can
only see their backs^ — the General tall and erect in his
black tunic and crimson trousers, with his curious
narrow cropped head; M. Casimir-Perier short, but
equally erect, in a frock-coat and shepherd's-plaid,
with his head curiously broad and flat at the top. They
look like two schoolboys competing for a prize. You
surmise that the civilian will get it; his intonation is
clear and his declamation rhythmical, while the soldier
preserves his passionless monotone. But, as a mat-
ter of fact, each denies what the other says and admits
But what is the result of it all? You suddenly wake
up to the fact that it has nothing whatever to do with
the case. Whether Dreyfus communicated to a foreign
Power documents concerning the national defence has
suddenly become a side issue. The question has be-
come quite different. In January, 1894, did Mercier
treat Casimir-Perier cavalierly, and was Casimir-Perier
right to resign? They cease even to pretend to know
anything about Dreyfus, and are fighting each in the
interest of his own self-satisfaction. And President
and counsel and spectators all seem to think it the
most natural procedure in the world.
Then come more witnesses, and you observe with
amazement that not a single word that any of them
says can be called evidence. They come in — take the
oath, sit down if they are not feeling very strong, and
A SHOT IN THE STREET
then sail off into an interminable speech, each on the
subject of himself — what he did, what he thinks, what
he heard tell, what he heard somebody say he heard
somebody else tell. They go on till they stop; then
somebody asks a question, and they begin all over again
— like alarm clocks when you think they have run down
and rashly touch them.
Here is an example of French methods of evidence.
The officer who was with Dreyfus on the day of his
degradation, Captain Lebrun-Renault, has asserted that
the condemned man made a confession. A confession,
of course, is evidence everywhere, but everybody knows
that false confessions of crime are not rare ; therefore,
in English law even a confession requires confirmation.
In this case the confession is disputed.
It is not pretended than anybody else now alive heard
Dreyfus. Yet almost every witness up to now had
discussed this alleged confession. First the President
questioned Dreyfus himself on it. Dreyfus denied it.
Next M. Casimir-Perier deposed that Captain Lebrun-
Renault had said nothing about the matter to him.
Next General Mercier deposed that he told Captain Le-
brun-Renault to tell M. Casimir-Perier about it. Next
these two witnesses were heard in contradiction. The
ex-Minister of War said that General Gonse heard him
tell the Captain to tell the President ; the ex-President
said that M. Dupuy Iiad told him that Captain Lebrun-
Renault did not tell him, Dupuy, that he told him, Casi-
mir-Perier. M. Cavaignac went into the same inci-
dent at great length. He said that General Gonse
wrote to him that Captain Lebrun-Renault told him,
Gonse, that he, Lebrun-Renault, heard Dreyfus con-
fess. This jungle of pronouns is what the French seem
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
to call evidence. And when you have struggled through
it you hear that Captain Lebrun-Renault is to be called
himself to give his own evidence in Dreyfus's presence
and to be cross-examined upon it ! What a trial.
The witness of whom most was expected on this
Monday was M. Cavaignac. Unlike Mercier, Cavaignac
was at least open and above-board. He is the good
boy of French politics — a toy Brutus who has lived on
his reputation for integrity ever since at school he re-
fused to take his prize from the son of the Emperor
who imprisoned his father. This profession of honest
man leads to high eminence in the Chamber of Depu-
ties — the more so in that Cavaignac has almost a mo-
nopoly of it. He is the housemaid who sweeps up all
the scandals of France. When every public man but
half a dozen had dirtied his fingers in Panama, Ca-
vaignac was the man to restore public confidence in
public honesty. When Billot had succeeded Mercier,
and the Dreyfus case had become worse tangled than
ever, and the General Staff and the War Office were
suspect — who but Cavaignac could go to the Min-
istry of War and vouch for them? To the outsider
he is a tiresome prig, with his eternal protestations of
Roman virtue; and he looks it, with his narrow,
stooping chest, his narrow, pedant^s head, his little
moustache, and the close-cropped short side-whislcers
on his cheek bones. But to France it is an obvious
godsend to have one of her public men who can be
relied upon to tell the truth. Cavaignac duly went to
the Ministry of War and announced that Dreyfus was
guilty. Cavaignac said so; France was reassured at
once. Presently Cavaignac got up in the Chamber
and read a letter from one military attache to another
A SHOT IN THE STREET
proving that Dreyfus was a traitor: France had it
posted up on the walls of every commune in the coun-
try. And then — one day it was known that the letter
was a forgery and that its author, the chief stand-by
of the General Staff in its fight against Dreyfus, was
in prison with his throat cut. And the mystery was
that Cavaignac still said Dreyfus was guilty. The
discovery of Henry^s forgery, whereof he himself ex-
torted confession and instantly acknowledged it, was
the strongest confirmation of his famous integrity. But
this time France doubted. His heart remained unim-
peachable; only, what about his head?
Now came Cavaignac into court at Rennes to set
all doubt to rest. He stood up before the Council of
War, stretched forth the hand and harangued it as if
it had been the Chamber of Deputies. Frankly and
clearly he told them everything. He told everything —
and he told nothing. Not one single revelation to sat-
isfy the world of Dreyfus^s guilt — only an argument
such as any man who knew a little of the French army
could have made quite as well. It was a good argument
— clear, cogent, everything except convincing — and to
the impartial mind it disposed forever of the su-
perstition that a man could not honestly believe Drey-
fus guilty. Cavaignac proved that Dreyfus was in an
exceptionally good position to know all the secrets de-
tailed in the intercepted covering-letter. Very few offi-
cers in the French Army are able to betray the in-
formation that was betrayed; none were more able
than Dreyfus. To be evidence to hang a man and
worse, this demonstration, to Anglo-Saxon ideas,
should have gone further, and shown that none other
was able to betray these secrets at all. It established
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Cavaignac's good faith and makes it easy to believe in
other men's; it explained, maybe, why Dreyfus was
accused. But it did not explain why he was, or ever
should be, convicted.
The whole day was a procession of ex-Ministers —
mostly generals. The first of the series was General
Billot, a globular general with a very white head and
moustache, and an expression bearing something of
the benevolent ferocity of a plump and elderly bull-
dog. He suggested the harmless terrors of a general
in a comic opera. He seemed to be saying, "The
Army's going to the devil, sir ; pass the port V What
he really did was to give an extended history of the
Dreyfus case and his own views of it. Next came
a rosy, brisk, really soldierly soldier — General Zurlin-
den. He was remarkable in that he stood up to give
evidence, and in answer to a question he responded
simply "No" — the first monosyllabic answer of the
trial. Then a very elderly, white-bearded general —
Chanoine — who looked like a Non-conformist Mem-
ber of Parliament appearing in uniform at a Covent
Garden ball ; nobody knows what, if anything, he said.
Then M. Hanotaux, who gave a brief lecture on the
duty of a Foreign Minister.
The only person who appeared to bear the Dreyfus
case in mind was Dreyfus. From time to time he made
protestations in a thick and colourless voice — always
protestations of innocence. After that one moment's
explosion, the upheaval of a continent of passion, he
had ribbed himself in his reserve again. He was again
the automaton that could speak but one word — inno-
cent, innocent, innocent !
The day on which Me. Labori was shot was an event-
ful one for me. At the close of the sitting I saw my
first genuine, unmistakable manifestant.
The evidence was just over, and the quays along
both sides of the river were sprinkled with the usual
motley of gendarmes, journalists, newspaper boys, and
generals, with here and there a citizen of Rennes. All
of a sudden I heard, quite distinct and quite close, the
words, ''A bas la calotte T It means ''Down with the
tonsure!" — that is to say, with the priests. I whipped
round and beheld a young working man in mustard-
coloured clothes, listening, with modest self-satisfac-
tion, to the echoes of his own exclamation. Others had
heard, too, for when he moved slowly up the street
he was followed by about five hundred people.
For a time he went quietly, and I feared that the
active manifestation was over for the day. But sud-
denly a steam tram came snorting and shrieking along
the opposite quay. When he saw it the manifestant
became another man. His eyes blazed, his face
squeezed itself all into the middle ; he turned his head
towards the tram, and, in a voice choked with fury,
screamed three times, ''A has la calotte T Then he
looked back with the same modest pride, and behold,
five gendarmes were trotting slowly up to clear the
street ! At that he dived down a byway, and the
day's manifestation was over.
Oh, yes, we shall have new dangers to talk over
when we leave the good town of Rennes ! Assassins ?
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Why, bless you, every other man you meet is one — at
least, the other side generally call him one, by word
of mouth or in print, directly or by implication; and
the other side ought to know. Rennes held many an
anxious heart on Assumption Day, which followed
Monday's sitting. The assailant of Me. Labori had
not been caught, which meant, of course, that he had
friends and sympathisers, for otherwise he must have
gone somewhere for food. The theft of Me. Labori's
letters as he lay on the ground looked like a plot. In
default of the real criminal somebody at every street
corner was calling somebody on the other side an as-
sassin. As you know, it is the favourite word of
France. When we returned from court that morning
Jewish ladies were waiting at the doors of the hotel
to make sure that no assassin had assassinated their
husbands. They told each other with shaking lips that
the lower quarters, inflamed by cider — far weaker than
lager beer — were contemplating a massacre of Jews;
it was felt that there were too many of them, and that
they gave themselves airs. They remembered, with
palpitations, that it was less than a week to the St.
An eminent novelist went up to an eminent anti-
Semite and remarked, "Assassin ! Your face dis-
pleases me. Assassin! I give you five minutes to leave
this hotel. Assassin!'^ The anti-Semite, who hap-
pens to be a Jew himself, went to the Prefect and
asked for protection. "Perfectly,'' replied the high-
minded official; "it is my duty to protect every law-
abiding citizen, irrespective of party, race, sex, or
creed. I shall do my duty." "But," added M. le Prefet,
"it would be wrong for me to disguise from you that
my authority stops at the door of your hotel." Then
*'By the way," he went on pleasantly, ''when do you
count to leave Rennes?" "To-morrow/^ "Then let
me advise you, as a man of well known law-abiding
tendencies, considering the emotion aroused by the
odious attempt at assassinations of this morning, to —
to — advance the day of your departure by a day." And
he did. The novelist, a much bigger man, accom-
panied him to the door, shouting "Assassin !" on to
the top of his head ; and Rennes saw that defender of
the honour of the army no more.
But August 15th was Assumption Day, and Assump-
tion Day cleared the air. It was, of course, a holiday ;
and when next morning we went again to the fa-
miliar hall of the Lycee, Rennes was its dear, old,
sleepy self again. When we went in, it had not as yet
got up ; when we came out it was enjoying its siesta ;
by the time its siesta was well over it was its dinner-
time, and then its bed-time.
No excitement was expected in court, and it turned
out rather less than was expected. It was in the true
Rennais spirit that the proceedings opened with a mo-
tion for adjournment. The idea was to go on with a
series of forty-eight hour adjournments until Me. La-
bori could be in court again. But the Court said No,
and, though the Dreyfusards raged, the Court was
doubtless right. Certainly Me. Labori's absence did
cripple the defence, for Me. Demagne as a cross-ex-
aminer is more ponderous than ponderosity. Still there
was, so far, no evidence, in an English sense, to cross-
examine. On the other hand, it was plainly to the pub-
lic interest — what with plots in Paris and arrests and
anti-Semites fortifying themselves with revolvers and
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
2,000 bottles of St. Galmier water — to bring these ex-
plosive days to an end.
Towards this end we made, on the i6th, some ad-
vance, but not much. The first witness was an ex-
Minister of Justice, M. Guerin. He was apparently
called on the principle that any French statesman of
Cabinet rank — which I reckon to be about seventy-
five per cent, of them — is entitled, along with his pen-
sion, to come into court and give his views on the
Dreyfus case, or on any other subject, preferably him-
self. Next came M. Andre Lebon, ex-Minister of the
Colonies, whom they call the torturer of Dreyfus. He
was a well set-up, capable-looking man, with long,
drooping, yellow whiskers, and you would call him
very unlike torturing anybody. He had much to say
of projects for rescuing Dreyfus, which may or may
not have existed outside the Gallic imagination and
he admitted that he had ordered Dreyfus in irons
while they improved his palisade. He had been a
brute, no doubt vicariously ; yet he left a clean impres-
sion behind him.
By way of pendant to Lebon they read out the of-
ficial report about Dreyfus on Devil's Island. It was
formal and colourless, and I think it was the most pa-
thetic document I ever heard. Up to September, 1896,
when there was a false alarm of a rescue, Dreyfus was
treated with comparative mildness. After that he was
put in irons for forty-four nights, while a double pali-
sade was built about his cell, which he never left; it
was so high that he could not look over it at the sea.
On June 6th, 1897, an English brig appeared off the
Island and was fired on with blank. At the first sound
Dreyfus started up, but immediately sank down again
and lay quite still. His self-control saved his life, for
the gaoler had orders to shoot him if he tried to es-
cape. After that they moved him to another hut, also
completely isolated by a high palisade. It was divided
by an iron grill into two halves: in one was a warder
who never took his eyes of¥ Dreyfus day or night. He
was forbidden to speak to his warder except when
asking for something.
Truly heartrending is the dry record of what Drey-
fus said. On July 2d, 1895, when he had been on the
Island nearly four months, he was asked how he was.
"I am well for the moment," he replied. ''It is my
heart that is sick. Nothing" — and here he broke down
and wept for a quarter of an hour. On August 15th,
1895, he said; "Colonel du Paty de Clam promised me,
before I left France, to make inquiries into the matter;
I should not have thought that they could take so
long. I hope that they will soon come to a head."
They did not come to a head for over four years more ;
and it was no fault of Colonel du Paty's that they did
ever. On August 31st he wept on receiving no let-
ter from his family, and said, "For ten months now I
have been suffering horrors." Two days later he was
taken with a sudden burst of sobbing and said, 'Tt
cannot last long; my heart will end by breaking." He
always wept when he received his letters. A year
later he said, 'T can only think with excessive pain in
the head, and I cannot read m.y wife's letters a second
time." Most of the days he spent sitting in the shade
with a book in his hands ; sometimes he was heard to
sob, and often seen to hide his tears. He begged very
earnestly to be allowed a medicine case. "For," said he,
"I am an expiatory victim, and I claim the right to put
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
an end to it at my own moment. Sometimes my head
bursts, my heart spUts, and I fear madness." Alto-
gether he wrote over a thousand letters in his four
years — to his wife, his brother, his son, the President,
the Ministers, General de Boisdeffre — anybody. His
correspondence and that of his family was so affecting
that the commandant forbade the warders to read it,
lest they should relax the rigour of their guard over
Next, amid emotion — which means that many stood
on the forms and the rest on the tables, and all
sh-h-h-ed for silence till the room was like a serpent-
house — came Mme. Veuve Henry. But emotion was
wasted. Dressed in deep black, neither tall nor short,
neither beautiful nor ugly, Mme. Henry was neither an
avenging fury nor a forgiving angel. The only distin-
guished feature of her evidence was a curious trick
of beating time with her thumb. For the rest it had
to do with, the late Colonel Henry and his wife, as M.
Guerin^s evidence had to do with M. Guerin and M.
Lebon's with M. Lebon; but on the question whether
Drevfus had delivered the documents enumerated in
the bordereau it had no bearing whatever.
That was the question which as yet no evidence
had directly touched. And, what is more, no evidence
seemed likely to touch it.
General Roget, the next witness, was an excellent
example of the methods of the prosecution. He gave
the impression of very much higher ability than the
colleagues who had preceded him. Though only two
or three years above fifty, his hair is grey-white and
his forehead bare. Short, but broadly built, and of
elastic carriage, the combination of a large, sloping
brow, of a white moustache with the waxed ends turn-
ed towards his ears, and of shoulders held back from
a slightly protuberant stomach gives the impression
that he is always leaning backwards, even when he
stands most upright. It gives him something of the
bearing of an opera singer, and he has a ready instinct
for an elegant pose. His voice is pleasant — *'a pretty
tribune voice," as the local paper put it; he rolls agree-
ably the r's. His carriage is jaunty, his smile ready,
his features good, his complexion fresh. He ought to
produce an attractive, soldierly effect — only somehow
he does not. The features are good individually, but
they do not make a good face. Perhaps it is the back-
ward-pointed moustache that seems to lend him a per-
petual sneer, perhaps the carriage is a little artificially
genial; somehow the ears seem unpleasantly promi-
nent and pointed. General Roget has the air of a white
He had not been directly concerned with the Drey-
fus case in its early stages, having made a study of it
only at the time of the Zola trial. On the strength
of this study he was appointed Chief of the War
Minister's Cabinet on July 8th, 1898, and held that of-
fice under M. Cavaignac and General Zurjinden.
Therefore he was not in any way tied to defend acts of
his own; at the same time he owed his promotion to
his activity in the case and might expect to gain more.
In both ways he was likely to be the strongest advo-
cate the prosecution would bring forward.
He ran quickly up the platform steps and began.
He had delivered an exhaustive review of the case to
the Cour de Cassation; but you could recognise the
advocate in that, instead of repeating it as the others
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
did, he began with the question of the hour. He set
himself to destroy the confessions of Esterhazy — no
difficult matter, seeing that they mutually destroy each
other. "Every version is false," he concluded, "and
yet I should not be the least surprised to see him come
to this bar before the end of the trial and propound
another." He then threw ofif a short passage to dis-
credit Judge Bertulus, who would be the next witness
and would favour the defence. He touched slightly,
supplementing Mercier, on the secret dossier.
He enlarged on the possibility that Dreyfus could
have got the plans of Nice. Next, he insisted es-
pecially on the suspicious denials of Dreyfus in 1894
and at his interrogatory on the first day. Dreyfus,
urged Roget, neither explained nor discussed. He
denied knowledge of the plans of concentration,
though he had drawn maps from memory at the Gen-
eral Stafif showing particulars for each army. He de-
nied having seen the firing manual, although Colonel
Jeannel was ready to swear he had lent him one, and
he could have admitted this with perfect safety. And
certainly this was, and is, a strong point against Drey-
fus. He has denied so much and so mechanically that
it is hard to acquit him of lying. He may have thought
he was in a trap, and the less he admitted the better
chance to get out of it. But how many intelligent men,
if perfectly honest, would be so short-sighted?
General Roget had finished his first glass of water,
and poured out another. Presently, by way of corol-
lary, he pulled out his handkerchief and began to mop
his forehead and neck. He was evidently exerting
himself greatly to talk, to remember, to explain. Now
he attacked the bordereau, beginning with the note
on the hydraulic brake of the 120-milUmetre gun.
This could not mean the old glycerine brake of 1883,
which everybody knew; it must be the new hydro-
pneumatic brake, which first enabled a gun of this
calibre to be used as a field-piece. This was so little
known that it was generally, though incorrectly,
spoken of as "hydraulic" even by officers of artillery.
It was made at Bourges and was being tried between
1888 and 1891 — a period which included the time
when Dreyfus was stationed there. Very few officers
knew the details of it; but it is certain, said General
Roget, that Dreyfus, by conversation with them and
by picking up what was going on in the foundry, could
have got information which gunners would have re-
fused to an infantry officer like Esterhazy. And he
added a story showing that in July, 1894, Dreyfus once
talked with such knowledge and inteUigence at din-
ner of what was being done at Bourges that General
de Boisdeft're took him apart after dinner and walked
with him up and down a bridge over the Mosel for
an hour. Now the Germans, he concluded, had already
knowledge of the 120 short gun; so that it would
be useless sending a special note on the brake unless
it was something important or very secret.
Touching lightly on the other points, he came final-
ly to the firing-manual and carefully analysed the para-
graph of the bordereau that deals with it. ''This docu-
ment is extremely difficult to get, and I can only have
it a very few days" — it was the easiest of the five for
Esterhazy to get. He could have borrowed it from
a dozen artillery officers, whereas there is no evidence
of his having done so; while the other documents he
could have got only from the General Staff, and that
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
on the hydro-pneumatic brake not even thence. On
the other hand Dreyfus could get the manual, but
only one of three copies for use among several officers,
any one of whom might ask for it at any moment. "The
Minister has sent a definite number for distribution
among the corps" — anybody but an artillery officer
would have said ''the artillery corps" or ''regiments."
"If therefore you wish to take from it what interests
you. . . " — the process here indicated takes time. Ester-
hazy would not know he could have the manual till
he got it, which would involve all the process of writ-
ing, awaiting an answer, sending the manual, copying
it, sending it back. It was impossible for Esterhazy
to have done this between August 5th and 9th, when
he was attending field-firing at Chalons; Dreyfus for
his part would await Schwarzkoppen's reply before
he got the manual at all.
Thus, strand by strand he laboured to unwind the
meshes from Esterhazy; knot by knot he toiled to
tighten them round Dreyfus. He drank more and
more water, the sweat broke out more and more pro-
fusely. Roget was working with terrible earnestness
— working to destroy a life as good men work to save
one. Mercier, whom the prisoner's exculpation would
ruin for ever, showed no bitterness; Roget, on whom
it would bring no shame, sweated hate at every pore.
He argued carefully, closely, pitilessly; but he did
more than argue. His words said much, his voice, his
manner said far more. He accused him of a dozen
treacheries; he implied a thousand.
Listening hour by hour, day by day, to testimony
such as this finished by quite numbing the judgment.
With every fresji witness the cold mist of doubt set-
tied thicker and thicker over the whole affair. I came
to Rennes firmly believing Dreyfus innocent; now I
no longer knew what I believed. Hour by hour, day
by day, the hope of certainty receded further into the
shades. It was all a bafBing mystery, and a mystery
it seemed likely to remain till the day of judgment.
Listening to men like Mercier and Cavaignac, it was
difficulty to believe they were not honest — at any rate,
at the beginning. Listening to men like Roget —
though he spoiled his case by his violence — it was idle
to deny that there were strong presumptions against
the accused. So there were against Esterhazy — as
strong perhaps, but not a whit stronger.
The sense of mystery became an oppression. What
was it? What did it all mean? Witnesses talked by
the hour, and when they had done all that remained
v\^as a floating suspicion that there was something —
something below that they had left unsaid. Here was
the great case which for five years had convulsed
pTance and perplexed the world. In its ultimate effects
it will probably alter the face of Europe. Some have
called it the beginning of the end of civilization. And
there seemed to be nothing certain in it. Every-
body had promised the whole truth for this final clear-
ing of the muddle. And then nothing came, nothing
was known, and still it was impossible to believe that
there was nothing to know. Everything seemed pos-
sible. Every wild hypothesis in turn hardened from
possibility to probability. One hour there had been a
great plot and a ring of traitors. Dreyfus was in it
and had been sacrificed to save the others. The next,
ambitious Dreyfus had really, as he is said to have
acknowledge, given up trumpery documents in the
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
hope, Jew-like, of making a personal success by bring-
ing to the Intelligence Department some great secret
of Germany. Presently Esterhazy was telling the
truth; he had written the letter to Schwarzkoppen,
which never went, so as to implicate Dreyfus, innocent
or guilty. Anon, Dreyfus, having been shunned and
tabooed by his brother officers, had rushed to his
revenge in treason. Any supposition was admissible
— and half of them, even if admitted, brought us no
nearer a clear knowledge of Dreyfus's guilt or inno-
cence. Even though military attaches and ambassa-
dors came and lifted their hands to the Christ and
swore, France would never trust their testimony on
such a question. The case of Dreyfus seemed hidden
from human knowledge — a secret to be unwrapped only
before the Great White Throne.
In the meantime only one thing was clear, and grew
clearer every day; innocent or guilty, traitor or vic-
tim, Dreyfus was a man.
The first day so stiff and jerky, like a galvanized
corpse, now he moved in and out of the court more
elastically,and his gestures when speaking were neither
clumsy nor theatrical. The first day his voice was
cavernous, now, though still harsh and a little snarling,
it was full of volume and strength. The second day
General Mercier baited him out of his self-control;
now he sat all day rigid and intent, and heard man
after man call him traitor without a challenge. The
long waves of accusation came lapping over him, im-
possible to deny, yet more impossible to disprove. La-
bori was gone, and Demange inactive; yet Dreyfus
I believe he was the only Frenchman in court — he to
whom it meant new life or hell again — who followed
the evidence with a just appreciation of its value. When
they asked what he had to say to M. Lebon, he re-
plied, "I am here to defend my honour and my chil-
dren's. I shall not speak again of what happened on
Devil's Island." He listened to the awful narrative of
his torments — the more awful for the precise coldness
of the official language — damp-eyed but unflinching.
Finally came General Roget, raking him for two
hours and a half with insult and insinuation. Taking
his hint from Mercier's apostrophe and the outburst
that followed, Roget turned and spat the last part of
his accusation full into Dreyfus's face. He faced tow-
ards Dreyfus, pointed at him, underlined each damn-
ing innuendo. A turn of the screw — another — a pause
— gently, very gently, another — a slackening of the
screw — ah ! a sharp wrench.
Dreyfus never swerved. At the end, when his turn
came, he rose, and from the fury vibrating in his voice
you could tell how hard he had been holding the blood
still in his heart. But what he said was exactly what
every Anglo-Saxon in the court had been thinking all
day long. "All these days," he cried, "I have been
listening to speeches for the prosecution. I cannot
defend myself." And then, as always, ''innocent."
He was still the dead man half alive, but at least
he was becoming used to his semi-life and command-
ed himself. Yet these days of unanswered accusation
were an ordeal and Dreyfus himself was unearthly. At
times he seemed to be petrifying back to living death
again. In every look at the hall, in every photograph,
though the place was full of fine heads, the grey-white
clay-white Dreyfus was the only thing you saw. The
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
harsh profile with the strong forehead and nose, with
the bar of black moustache cutting it like the empty
grin of a Death's-head, the long, gaunt jaw and for-
ward thrusting chin, the naked cranium, half bald,
half cropped — it all looked grotesquely like an illustra-
tion in a phrenologist's shop window. Or, again, if
you saw his whole body, the thick shape pressed close-
ly into the chair, the knees close together and the feet
together, bending backwards, reminded you of an an-
cient Egyptian statue. That, and the smooth, Oriental
skull, the stern, moveless, Oriental mask — he might
just have come to life after sitting entombed through
centuries in stone before a temple of Thebes or Nine-
vah. A mummied image of Chaldsea, the forgotten
god of a lost people — anything but a living man of
the year of our Lord 1899.
The Court had just undergone a severe course of a
gentleman named Bertulus. He is a Juge dTnstruc-
tion, who has accidentally, in the course of his func-
tions in Paris, got himself enmeshed in the Dreyfus
case. A brisk, good-looking little man, with bright
black eyes and an enormous black moustache, he
went up to the bar and began to wave his arms wildly
in all directions. You would have said he was an opera-
singer practising before a pier-glass — only not a single
word came. However, the President appeared to be
looking at him intently, and presently the prosecut-
ing commissary was struck by a doubt. Inquiry hard-
ened suspicion into certainly: M. Bertulus had been
giving evidence for some time, and nobody but the
President and the two nearest judges knew it. He was
asked to begin again, and did so; he, also, continued
at great length.
At the end he was confronted with Mme. Henry^ —
solely that the lady, with outstretched thumb, might
call him Judas. It is not a woman speaking, she said:
it is the voice of Colonel Henry. It was exactly like
a scene out of an Italian opera.
After that depressing experience, composedly
slouching up to the bar in an ill-fitting morning coat,
came Picquart. To the Dreyfusard Picquart is the
hero of the piece; to seven French officers he is a
very suspicious character. "His enemies," said a jour-
nalist from Paris to me — "even his enemies have never
dared impute any other motive to him than love of
truth and justice." Two minutes later I heard one
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
of his enemies declare that he took up the innocence of
Dreyfus solely to ruin Du Paty de Clam, with whom,
for reasons utterly unprintable, he was at bitter enmity.
To the Court, at any rate, Picquart is the man who
has set his face like a flint against his superior offi-
cers, and spent months in prison for trying to prove
them either knaves or fools.
Until he ran his head upon the Dreyfus case three
years ago Picquart was almost the most promising
soldier in France. An Alsatian from Strasburg, he
had seen service in Tunis and Tongking; he was major
at thirty-two and lieutenant-colonel at forty. He had
spent most of his home service at the Ecole de Guerre
or on the General Stafif. He knows English, German,
Austrian, Italian and Spanish — an accomplishment al-
most supernatural in a Frenchman. He had enjoyed
the high esteem of his chiefs ; there was nothing in the
French Army to which he might not reasonably aspire.
But now he came before the Court after spending ten
out of the last thirteen months in a secret prison.
Neither as the enemy of generals nor as the successful
staff officer was he likely to be popular with seven regi-
mental officers ; younger than any member of the Coun-
cil, he was actually senior in the service to all but two.
His demeanour was not at all conciliatory. He ap-
proached with absolute calm on a face that bears no
sign of passion either for good or evil : he looks — and
looks as if he knows he looks — the embodiment of pure
reason. He settled himself very carefully and lengthilv
on the witness's chair, got his shoulder-blades com-
fortably into the back, crossed his leg over his knee, and
pulled down his trousers over his boot. Then he poured
out a glass of water and laid both hands firmly on the
table before him. He suggested that, while far from
wishing to swagger, he knew he was master of the
situation. When he began to speak there was neither
the ease of conversation nor the rhythm of declama-
tion. You remember that he had been a professor at
the Ecole de Guerre. It was a lecture, pure and sim-
ple; and the first word was as distinct and clear-cut
as the last. His whole demeanour said, "Now, gen-
tlemen, I must ask vou to listen to me. I shall take
some time; but, if you will only listen, you have now
the chance of your lives to understand the Dreyfus
And then, without hesitation or confusion, Colonel
Picquart explained the Dreyfus case for seven hours
and a half. It was a masterpiece of reasoning — the in-
tellectual triumph of the trial. I should strongly ad-
vise the French War Office to make its peace with
Colonel Picquart, for he has a better head than all the
generals put together. He went over the whole ground,
from the secret documents to the latest fancies of Es-
terhazy, and seemed the only man who knew every foot
of it. He knew the offices of the General Staff like
his pocket — where every document was kept, where
everybody worked, what everybody's work was, what
he was in a position to know and what he was not.
He had seen every stage of the Dreyfus case, and could
recite from memory almost every cryptogram of the
secret dossier. Yet, with his innumerable digressions
and parentheses, though he threw out hints for the
elucidation of puzzle after puzzle on the spur of the
moment, he never entangled himself in details. Al-
ways he returned to the main argument, at the point
where he left it. He touched every point and brought
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
it into its due relation with his whole theory. He
saw the nature and bearing of every fact by the dry,
white light of pure reason. This was a man in some
sort like Mercier — a man for whom hate or love, an-
ger or hope or fear, could never colour what seemed
right. Only this was a man with a brain — a brain like
a swift, well-oiled machine, every wheel running easily
in its place, every nut and bolt doing its due share of
work, no more and no less. To the nodding stranger
Picquart was a revelation; here at last, you cried, is a
man with a clear head. It was a speech for the defence,
of course, not evidence; but it was the speech of a
supremely gifted intelligence. The whole Dreyfus
case was unreeled like a proposition of Euclid.
And not only the Dreyfus case, either. So far, you
will have observed, we had been trying two cases;
they now became four. The Dreyfus case led in the
Esterhazy case; and now in turn the Esterhazy case
led in the Picquart case. Esterhazy was accused to
prove Dreyfus innocent; Picquart was accused in turn
to prove Esterhazy innocent again and Dreyfus again
guilty; finally Henry was accused to prove Picquart
honest, Esterhazy doubly guilty, and Dreyfus trebly
wronged. General Roget had initiated us the day
before into these first two branching alleys of the trial.
Bertulus had followed him and had introduced the
fourth element — the Henry case.
Picquart began with Dreyfus. He described the
flutter caused by the arrival of the bordereau, the in-
vestigation, the identification, Du Paty de Clam's dic-
tation scene, the trial, the alleged confession — all from
the point of view of an eye-witness. For himself, he
had thought the handwriting of the bordereau akin to
Dreyfus's, but could not say it was the same. He had
seen the lines that Dreyfus had written at Du Paty's
dictation, and to his eye they showed no tremulous-
ness. Going on to the bordereau, he argued that there
was no proof that the information it invoiced was of
any importance. If it had been, then the author would
have said so, to enhance his price. If Dreyfus knew of
the Madagascar plan of campaign, then he knew more
than Picquart, who was then his chief. As for the fir-
ing-manual, it was not a confidential document, and al-
most anybody could have got it. It may be answered,
by the way, to this that Dreyfus, being on the General
Staff, would have no need to cry up his wares — they
were bound to be precious. But Picquart here, none
the less, put his unerring finger on the weak spot of the
generaPs case. They all assumed that the information
betrayed was of the first importance. What evidence
was there for that assumption? None in the bor-
dereau. Except that it was necessary to implicate
Dreyfus, there was no reason for it in the world.
That finished August 17th. Next day Picquart —
still in the same absolutely lucid, absolutely dispassion-
ate, absolutely reasonable style^ — plunged into the se-
cret dossier. He had known it when he was head of
the Intelligence Department, nearly three years ago;
now he had to deal with it from memory. In the
Dreyfus dossier of his time, he said, there were three
documents of primary importance. The first was the
document ''Doubt, proofs," of which the text has been
given already. Picquart's interpretation was of course
diametrically opposed to Mercier's. As he read it,
Schwarzkoppen said, "I doubt ; the proof (of my cor-
respondent's genuineness) is his officer^s brevet. It is
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
dangerous for me to deal with a French officer, and I
cannot personally conduct negotiations. He brings
what he has/* Here in the original German is abso-
lute ge — , then a blank, and then, in French, bureau
de renseignements. About half the words in the Ger-
man language begin with ge — . Du Paty made it
gezvalt and translated 'T fear the absolute power of
the Intelligence Department/* Picquart made it ge-
wissheit and translated 'Tt is absolutely certain he
is in relations with the Intelligence Department/*
Then he went on, "His information has no relation
with regimental matters, and is important as coming
from the Ministry/* Which meant, summarily, that
the telegram did not refer to Dreyfus, but to Esterhazy
in conjunction with Henry.
Next he boarded the Davignon letter; Picquart
concluded that its terms are so unconstrained that
"your friend" can hardly apply to a spy. Would
Panizzardi simply say, "Take care Davignon does
not know/* if it were such a deadly matter as
treason on the General Staff? Third came the
"Canaille de D ** letter about the plans of Nice.
But if Dreyfus betrayed these plans, said Picquart,
where did he get them from? In two offices where
plans are kept search was made and nothing had been
lost. It was possible, urged the prosecution, that
there may have been such plans in the ist Bureau of
the General Stafif. Possible; but were there, asked
Picquart, as a matter of fact, any plans missed from
that Bureau? There is no record of any such thing.
After the Dreyfus trial, he concluded, it became the
habit of the General Staff and Intelligence Depart-
ment to put down any treason that came out to Drey-
fus, evidence or not. Dreyfus accounted for every-
thing, and any swindler who wanted a couple of hun-
dred francs brought in a new betrayal by Dreyfus.
Whereas when, after Dreyfus's condemnation, a docu-
ment found its way out of the ist Bureau, and Pic-
quart had to inquire into the leakage, he was merely
told that it had passed through so many hands it was
impossible to say. So little did anybody care for trea-
son into which it was impossible to drag Dreyfus.
Here Picquart left the Dreyfus case and proceeded
down the branching alley to Esterhazy, and himself,
and Henry, and Du Paty de Clam. He went on in
the same calm, luminous style, and you would never
have known, from any change in voice or manner,
when he was speaking of his enemies or when of him-
self. It was plain enough, going by the substance
of what he said, that Du Paty was his personal foe,
that he hated him. But it was a curious contrast that
whereas, the day before. General Roget had perspired
with his virulence against a man he had hardly seen,
this cool and balanced intelligence delivered his damn-
ing charges against the enemy of his life in exactly the
same way as he would have delivered a lecture on the
formation of infantry for the attack.
It is not necessary to follow him into the details
of what happened after he became head of the Intel-
ligence Department. The grounds of his charges
against Esterhazy have been related in Chapter I.;
so have the stories of the veiled lady and the forged
telegrams sent to Tunis. Picquart's part in all this
branch of the case was double; on the defensive he
had to clear himself from the charge of having used
unjustifiable machinations to prove the guilt of Es-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
terhazy; on the offensive he strove to establish a con-
spiracy between Esterhazy, Henry, Major Lauth of
the Intelligence Department, and General Gonse, to
discredit his discoveries and himself.
He denied utterly that he began to shadow Ester-
hazy before his suspicions were awakened by the ex-
press letter-card (petit bleu) from the German Em-
bassy, or even heard of him till then. He put in a
very smart counter-attack. There was, he said, in a
collection of documents got together against him a
newspaper cutting mentioning Esterhazy. Henry had
dated this January 5, 1896 — before the arrival of the
letter-card; but when it came to be verified, behold the
true date was January 5, 1897. "You notice the
fraud," was all the quiet Picquart said: Henry had
made another forgery with a view to show that Pic-
quart had had Esterhazy in his eye as a victim be-
fore he began to gather evidence against him. As for
the charge of forging the letter-card, it was simple to
rebut it. At the time when he received a forged tele-
gram in Tunis — "They know that George is the au-
thor /of the letter-card. Blanch" — it mysteriously
came about that the name of Esterhazy in the address
of this card was scratched out and the same name, Es-
terhazy, written above the scratching. The sugges-
tion was, of course, that Picquart had altered the name
to implicate Esterhazy — only, unluckily, the address
was left intact, the card had been photographed with-
out any scratches when it first arrived, and the scratch-
ing had been done so clumsily that experts had de-
tected the original "Esterhazy" under the forged one.
In attacking, Picquart had plenty of weapons to
his hand. Gonse had tried to persuade him to hush
up the case against Esterhazy for fear of re-opening
the Dreyfus case. So in his blunt and not unkindly
way had Henry. "When I was in the Zouaves," par-
abled that burly ranker, "a private, the son of a colo-
nel, committed a theft. His captain wished to prose-
cute, the higher officers did not. The captain was
broke, and the thief remained." Against Du Paty
he asserted — what Esterhazy admitted also — that the
veiled lady was Du Paty himself in a false beard and
blue goggles. Against Lauth he had the presumption
that he doctored the letter-card. Against Lauth, Henry,
and Esterhazy together he produced, following Judge
Bertulus, a very black story. There was a German
secret agent called Richard Cuers, who told a French
secret agent, one Lajoux, that he wished to work for
the French Intelligence Department. Picquart sent
Lauth and a commissary named Thoms to interview
him at Basle, and at the last moment Henry, who
spoke no German, induced Picquart to let him go,
too. They came back and reported that it was impos-
sible to get Cuers to say a word. Later Cuers met
Lajoux, and said, "What do they mean by sending
this red-faced man who bullied me and would not let
me speak?" He had said also to Lajoux — and pre-
sumably repeated it to Henry and Lauth — that Drey-
ful had betrayed nothing to Germany; but that, on
the other hand, a decorated major, between forty and
fifty, had sold documents on artillery, but had been
dismissed because his information was worthless and
palpably wrong. Thus Picquart discounted the evi-
dence that Esterhazy knew nothing about artillery.
Finally, and here was the blackest part, when Bertulus
searched Esterhazy's lodgings a letter was found
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
marked "Basle R. C," which letter when Henry saw
in the judge's room, he collapsed with every sign of
guilty consternation. Esterhazy, argued Picquart,
was that decorated major who betrayed incorrect in-
formation on artillery, and Henry was his accomplice.
Thus, with a thousand other points too long for
mention, Picquart straightened out and wove together
again the whole tangle of the case. Always with the
same pellucid intonation, with the same grasp and
logic, with the same air of candour and moderation.
Everything he said was without rancour, without prej-
udice — a sincere opinion open to argument. A few of
his minor points were inaccurate, and the correction
of some was uncontradicted by him all through the
trial. But a man who pleaded for his life as if it
were an interesting mathematical theorem — it wanted
either more bias or more knowledge than I command-
ed to call that man a liar.
He came down glowing with a sort of placid tri-
umph in the clearness of his own head. The case,
which day by day had been growing blacker and
blacker against Dreyfus, was on a level again. And
Dreyfus, who had been growing whiter and whiter,
was once more a living man.
After Picquart the interest of the case fell down
badly, and showed no signs of getting up again. On
the 19th we had the anti-Dreyfusard, anti-Picquart,
in Major Cuignet, an officer with a big, fair moustache,
pale, thin cheeks, vast ears, and the general air of
an intelligent artisan. He had been commissioned by
M. Cavaignac to classify the Dreyfus papers, and in
so doing had discovered Henry's forgery. This was
his title to fame, but to-day he cut that subject alto-
gether. Cuignet had been put up — it was just like the
unjudicial judicature of the Dreyfus case^ — to answer
Picquart, just as in the House of Commons you might
put up a Harcourt after a Chamberlain. For the rest,
he said nothing new and left a nasty flavour in every-
body's mouth. He seemed a little parasite that spent
his time on the Staff running errands for the generals
and would say exactly what the generals would like
him to say.
Next came General de Boisdeffre, a very different
figure — the gentleman of the trial. He was tall, and
perhaps a little old for his sixty years, his head was
both grey and bald, his moustache and tuft of beard
grey, too, his features well cut, fine, and distinguished.
His voice was somewhat gusty, as if age were attack-
ing him there also, yet distinct, and had a mellow
pleasantness after the sharp, hard ring of most of the
witnesses. He spoke with politeness of his opponents,
with warm affection of his friends, and of himself —
who guaranteed the Henry forgery and then resigned
— with a rather sad dignity. After him came his late
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
second in command on the General Staff — General
Gonse, a tubby, short-legged double of Napoleon III.
He was less attractive. He was on his own defence
all the time instead of on the attack of Dreyfus, and
pulled at his Napoleonic beard nervously. Both De
Boisdeffre and Gonse have much to answer for, if
Dreyfusards tell the truth. The impression on my mind
was that whenever anybody brought General de Bois-
deffre a troublesome point about the Dreyfus case, he
used to say, very politely and kindly. *T think you
had better see General Gonse about it." That was
probably weak; but I am much deceived if De Bois-
deffre is not an honourable, as he is a courtly gentle-
man. But it was hard to see why either he or Gonse
was there except that no Dreyfus trial would be com-
plete without them.
Monday also gave us little enough in the way of the
Dreyfus case, but there were some interesting person-
ages. General Fabre and Colonel d'Aboville were
the first, but they were out of place; they really her-
alded the cloud of witnesses that were to come on the
following days to depose on Dreyfus's demeanour in
the offices of the General Staff. After them — for no
apparent reason except that it would be a pity to leave
a picturesque figure out of the Dreyfus case — came
M. Cochefert, Chef de la Surete, the great detective of
contemporary France. Nobody in the world can ever
have looked less like a detective; he is the sort of
man who would have sat down with a criminal in a
cafe and had confidences forced upon him before
the second absinthe. He wears a frock-coat down
to his heels, as if he had had a section cut out of
his legs. His face is a blend of Bismarck and
a fat mastiff; as he sits in the cafe with a tall
hat on the back of his head and his jolly paunch be-
tween his knees, you would put him down as a thrifty
cabman from Auvergne who has saved money and
now has a growler or two of his own. With regard to
the Dreyfus case, he was present at Du Paty's dicta-
tion scene and the arrest; at the moment of the ar-
rest he was convinced, as is the duty of a good French
detective, of the prisoner's guilt. But the prosecution
took little out of Cochefert, after all; for he wound
up that if he had then known the bordereau and the
handwriting of Esterhazy, he would have felt
it his duty as an honest man to go to the Min-
ister and call his attention to the similarity between
The next witness was Gribelin, the archivist of the
Intelligence Department. You must understand that
when Picquart was head of that service his subordi-
nates were Henry, Major Lauth, Captain Junck, and
Gribelin; and they were all against him on the Drey-
fus-Esterhazy question. To-day the three last were to
appear, so that of the Picquart, if not of the Dreyfus,
case it was an important crisis. Gribelin is a man of
middle size with the air of a promoted sergeant, which
I suppose is what he is. As he gave his evidence he
rubbed his thumb and forefinger continually across
his throat — thinking, perhaps, of his mentor, the late
Colonel Henry. A man of his class being employed to
lock up secret documents in boxes would be quite sure
to become saturated with secret-service all through,
and so Gribelin was. He was more diplomatic than
the diplomatists. A military attache said something;
that was quite enough to convince the astute Gribelin
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
of the opposite. Dreyfus said he was innocent; that
proved to GribeUn that he was guilty.
After GribeHn came Lauth and Junck — men of a
very different stamp. They were by far the best wit-
nesses the prosecution had yet had — the best witnesses
anybody could wish to have. Fully half of the mili-
tary witnesses seen hitherto had been poorly made
men — podgy, herring-gutted, slouching; both Lauth
and Junck were models of soldiers. Lauth was the
dragoon — black tunic with white collar and cuffs,
baggy red trousers; he moved with the elastic swing of
a horseman; stood while he gave evidence with legs
crossed, leaning easily forward towards the judges;
to look at his limber back you would have said that
he was twenty instead of forty-one. In face he was
tanned, with a brown moustache and a heavy jaw
and chin ; with his monocle you might have taken him
for an English guardsman. Junck was bigger and
beautifully built — straight as a cleaning rod and long
as a lance. He wore a huge moustache framed in a
square face that bespoke sense and resolution.
Their manner of giving evidence was altogether ad-
mirable. Both these Alsatians, knowing German as
completely as French, had been in the Intelligence
Department and understood every detail of its work.
Neither dissipated himself on a review of the whole
case. Lauth spoke on the production of the bor-
dereau, Junck on his intercourse with Dreyfus, whose
contemporary he was; both on what passed in the
Intelligence Department under Picquart. Lauth was,
perhaps, the more spirited of the two, but Junck^s slow,
clear, unimpassioned style was equalled only by Pic-
Both were quite distinct and quite positive. Both
knew what they were talking about, and showed what
they knew with a weahh of corroborative detail. They
told how the furniture was placed, where Picquart
sat, where they stood; after that how could you dis-
believe them when they went on to tell you what
each said? They were so quaintly humorous that you
could not suspect them of malice. They were so frank
in giving points to the other side that you would not
suspect them of bias. The general efifect of their evi-
dence was that you could not believe a word that Pic-
It was the most curious problem in life, and the
most baffling. Here were the three Alsatians^ — Pic-
quart, Lauth, and Junck, all equally positive, all equal-
ly lucid, all equally convincing — and either the first
or the other two must be deliberately and elaborately
lying. Only which? Of course the anti-Dreyfusards
said Picquart, and the Dreyfusards said Lauth and
Junck. But for the man who merely wanted to find
out the truth it was blankly hopeless. True, there
were two of Lauth and Junck against one of Picquart;
on the other hand, it would probably pay twice as
well to be on Lauth's and Junck's side as it would
to be on Picquart's. If Picquart or Junck be false —
and one or other must be — what do you think of men
who face their fellows on the most important issue
of France's recent history, and in plain, temperate,
carefully selected language, without a hesitation, a
slip, a discrepancy, a second of confusion, lie steadily
for hours? If Lauth be false, what of a man — it con-
stantly happened in the subsequent days — who at ev-
ery turn of the case, at every crisis, when Labori was
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
flashing his searchHght, when the witness was silent
and the judges were suspicious, and the generals lost
their heads, who flung up his hand with "I ask to be
heard," and, standing up on the platform, told, in sim-
ple, unaffected language, the right lie in the right
place. You could never put him down, you could never
take him wrong. Cool, ready, resolute, if Major
Lauth was lying he is the master liar of the world;
and if he is not, Picquart is. Only at the end, I must
regretfully add, Lauth mixed his whole artistic display.
He alleged that on the day of the Czar^s great fete in
Paris Picquart brought his mistress to lunch with the
wives of his subordinates. He added information
which enabled most people in court to identify the lady.
This ungentlemanly burst of spite annihilated all his
days of self-restraint. I am not sure but Junck was
the best liar after all.
Well, I suppose we shall all see through the Drey-
fus case on the Day of Judgment; meanwhile I, for
one, give it up. But I ask you to give your attention
for a moment to the extraordinary prominence of
Alsatians in this trial that involves France. Dreyfus
has less achieved his greatness than had it thrust upon
him; yet Dreyfus is certainly a man capable beyond
the average of France. Dreyfus, Picquart, Lauth, and
Junck were the clearest-headed men in the place —
all Alsatians. Freystaetter — whom you will meet later
— the fighting soldier, the only quite honest man in
the place — is an Alsatian. Zurlinden, the most sol-
dierly of the generals, Bertin-Haurot, the most soldier-
ly of the witnesses — both Alsatians. Colonel Sand-
herr, whose secret agent brought in the bordereau,
and M. Sheurer-Kestner, whose action led to its first
public attribution to Esterhazy — both Alsatians. Gen-
eral Mercier, who headed the prosecution, and Ma-
thieu Dreyfus, who engineered the defence — both were
brought up in Alsace.
I wonder what will happen to France next genera-
tion when there are no more Alsatians left? They
will all be Germans then, and whatever will the poor
Frenchmen do? They will have to close the Intelli-
gence Department of the War Office, for one certain-
ty; for an Alsatian seems the only Frenchman capable
of knowing German. He seems, also, the only man
in France who can keep a cool head and stick to a
point. What will she do when that backbone of Teu-
tonic stability is withdrawn? As they say in the news-
papers — poor France !
THE COURT AND THE CASE.
You will say I am trying to shirk the historian's
duty, but my first duty, as they said daily before the
Court-Martial, is to tell the truth. The truth is that
at this stage the Dreyfus case, the world-shaking,
heart-tearing Dreyfus case, was becoming a bore.
Most fair-minded observers had given up all hope
of arriving at the complete and certain truth. The
enormous range and complexity of the case — a range
of five years and a complexity involving perpetual con-
tradictions between men who both ought to know,
perpetual appeals to witnesses who did not, and ap-
parently did not propose to, appear, rival interpre-
tations of cryptograms in German cipher, the text of
which we never saw, and the unceasing doubt that
any given document might turn out at any moment to
be a forgery, had melted all our brains to jelly. I take
the case of the Schneider — dare I call it forgery? —
letter. General Mercier quoted in his evidence a let-
ter from Colonel Schneider, the Austrian Military At-
tache in Paris. In it the writer said he still believed
— ^this was dated November 30, 1897 — that Dreyfus
had had relations with the German secret espionage
offices at Strasburg and Brussels. To the EngHsh
mind Colonel Schneider's belief seemed to have little
enough to do with the case; but General Roget said
he considered it the most damning document in the
whole secret dossier. Almost at the same moment ar-
rived a telegram from Colonel Schneider, who was
staying at Ems, denouncing the letter as a forgery.
The Austro-Hungarian Charge d'Afifaires in Paris
THE COURT AND THE CASE
confirmed the disclaimer. Major Cuignet, in his evi-
dence, threw doubt on the denial. On the top of that
came a letter from Schneider, saying that the date at-
tributed to the letter must be false, for in November,
1897, he took the diametrically opposite view of Drey-
fus's guilt; but the text itself he must examine before
he could say whether it was from his hand or not.
Later on there rose up a rumour that Mercier, at
the last moment, was going to produce a photograph
of the original bordereau — of which the document be-
fore the Court was but a copy, made either by Ester-
hazy or somebody else. This photograph, they said,
had been made while the original was coming back
from Berlin to Paris — for lo! it was annotated in the
German Emperor's own hand, and bore the super-
scription. "Return to Captain Dreyfus for further
details!" What could you make of a case when the
documents — the indubitable black and white docu-
ments — were such fleeting wraiths as these?
The Frenchman and the foreign partisans had no
such symptoms; to them everything on their side was
crushing, everything on the other flimsy. ''Every
day," said the Intransigeant, "fresh proofs are remorse-
lessly piled up against the traitor." "Every day," said
the Aiirore, "demonstrates more fully the deplorable
weakness of the enemies of truth and justice." I met
one Frenchman — and only one — impartial enough to
admit that he was partial.
Said he: "Suppose you had discovered that there
was treachery in your Navy, which is your all, as our
Army is ours. And suppose that for five years you
saw your admirals maintaining one side of the question
and your little Englanders the other. Which side
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
would you be on?" I had only one reply; if I were
a Frenchman I should have been an anti-Dreyfusard.
In England I should trust the admirals. But what
should I do when, after I had trusted the admirals
five years, the admirals came forward to give me the
materials to form my own judgment, and gave me the
same sort of materials as the French generals are
giving in the Dreyfus case? If the evidence had been
given at once, I should have said that it looked bad,
perhaps, but was not enough to hang a dog on. But
after five years of bitter faction? It is not so easy
to resume the judicial mind in a day. I declare it is
an outrage to ask a Frenchman to be impartial.
For the members of the Court-Martial the test was
as cruel a one as any man could undergo. If you took
seven Frenchmen from the street they would have
made up their minds before they so much as saw the
prisoner; Dreyfus would have been condemned, on
a fair average, by five to two or six to one. But these
seven officers, in addition to the prejudgment of years,
found superior officer after superior officer — the men
whom it is their military duty to trust and follow —
coming before them and pleading all on one side.
Whatever they decided, they were sure to be the butts
of the bitterest hostility for the remainder of their lives.
Even though the evidence were abundant, irrefutable,
and all on one side, their position would have been
difficult enough. It was turning out scanty, doubtful,
and ambiguous. The result was that whatever decis-
ion they gave would be ascribed, not to an honest
estimate of the weight of the evidence, but to motives
of which professional interest or political prejudice
was the least discreditable. I take it that every one
THE COURT AND THE CASE
of the seven would sooner have faced a park of Ger-
man artillery at a thousand yards than sat on the Drey-
Considering this, when I read in English papers
that the Court is showing signs of partiality, my blood
boiled. If it had been true, it had been better left
unsaid at the moment. At this stage certainly it was
not true. Drumont, of course, had not lost the chance
of an indecent exhibition — only he imputed unfair-
ness on the opposite side. "On the first day," said
one of the writers of the Libre Parole, "Colonel Jou-
aust showed tact and impartiality," which meant that
he severely cross-examined Dreyfus. But now he had
repented of his good intentions. "Why did he brutal-
ly threaten to clear the court when somebody shouted
'hoo^ at Dreyfus?" If this sort of thing goes on, the
Libre Parole reminded him^ one will recall the fact
that Colonel Jouaust's wife is a relation of Waldeck-
Rousseau — that that agent of the Panama swindlers
was actually a witness at his marriage, and that his
brother is a militant Freemason !
As a matter of fact, the Court-Martial commanded
the respect of everybody, Dreyfusard or anti-, that saw
it at work. The colonel I have spoken of before; he
gave the idea of being a just but kindly father to
everybody in the room. He sat there with keen eyes
twinkling behind his eye-glasses and his huge white
moustache hovering over the council-table like a dove.
On his right was Lieutenant-Colonel Brogniart, Di-
rector of the School of Artillery at Rennes, a narrow-
headed, high-browed face, expressive of a precise in-
telligence; his technical accomplishment was, of
course, beyond suspicion. On the President's left
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
was a mild and elderly major, with benevolent specta-
cles and white, fluffy hair like a baby's. To right and
left of these, like the supporters of a coat-of-arms,
were a small major and a big, black, bullet-headed cap-
tain on each side. All belonged either to the Engi-
neers or to the Artillery, which means that all had
passed through the Ecole Polytechnique, and were,
therefore, men of education.
The members who took the most active part were
the Colonel, the Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain
Beauvais. They questioned every important witness,
and never made a single unintelligent or inapposite in-
quiry. It was no small matter even to know the ques-
tions in this case, much less answer them; but these
three, at least, knew the questions thoroughly. Cap-
tain Beauvais's examinations would have done credit
to a lawyer. He was a burly man with a round,
cropped head and round, staring eyes, but he follow-
ed every turn and double of the case like a blood-
hound. He knew what every witness was driving at,
he knew what every witness was in a position to tell,
and out of that he knew exactly what he wished to
So did Colonel Jouaust. The inquiry had strayed
the very second day far beyond the original limits
imposed by the Cour de Cassation. But the Colonel
made a resolute effort to keep it straight. Thereby
he involved himself in charges of partiality from both
sides; every French witness thinks it is grossly un-
fair if he is not allowed to say anything he likes about
anything. The President often came into collision
with Labori later in the trial, partly because Labori
wished to rage at large over all the controversies of
THE COURT AND THE CASE
the last five years, partly because Jouaust had never
been brought in contact with such a whirlwind of a
cross-examiner before, was a little afraid of what he
would do next, and tried on principle to prevent him
from doing it. The insaner Dreyfusards, who were
the majority, objected that he treated the Generals
with deference; but how otherwise on earth would
you expect a colonel to treat a general? The anti-
Dreyfusards, on the other hand, were furious with
him for shutting down the Commissary of the Gov-
ernment when that estimable functionary wanted to
make speeches ; but I do not think their fury was very
sincere after the first week or two of the case. On the
whole Colonel Jouaust, thrown by the caprice of a
roster into the middle of the cauldron that was seeth-
ing his whole country, behaved with impartiality, tact,
and dignity, and won the respect of everybody who
watched him. Towards the finish I fancy he was very
eager to have the beastly thing finished and get away
with the relation of Waldeck-Rousseau into the coun-
try. With this aim he tried his utmost to confine the
issue to the interlaced Dreyfus and Esterhazy cases,
and leave the Picquart, Henry, and Du Paty de Clam
cases to settle themselves. It was not easy to keep
them out, but at length it began to be done. Only at
the very end, as we shall see, did he make an unques-
tionable blunder, which damns him forever in the eyes
of Dreyfusard Europe ; but for my part I watched him
and still believe in his honesty.
Now to sum up the position on the morning of
August 22nd. The whole case had been outlined — or
rather the whole five intertwining cases. Henceforth
we should be able to concentrate more particularly on
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
the Dreyfus-Esterhazy case proper. That case, as it
came before the Court, you might divide into five parts.
There was the evidence of the secret dossier, the tech-
nical analysis of the bordereau, the character of Drey-
fus, the handwriting, and the alleged confessions. Of
all this we had had the first two branches fairly well
threshed out by Mercier, Cavaignac, and Roget, on
the one side, and Picquart on the other. The defence
would have some witnesses bearing on them to come
at the end of the trial. We were now about to enter
successively on parts three, four, and five. As yet it
looked anybody's case. Dreyfus's guilt had not been
proved, but neither had his innocence. That, of course,
ought not to have needed proving ; he had a right to the
benefit of the doubt.
It was twenty-five minutes past six of a chilly morn-
ing. The hall of the Lycee buzzed and clacked with
even more than its usual horse-power of conversation.
Yesterday we were all talking of the Dreyfus case's
sudden swoop into an abyss of murky dulness ; to-
day everybody was galvanic with anticipation. Yester-
day we had floated into a sleepy pool of unimportant
witnesses, and the only ripple on the monotony was
the gradual rehumanization of Dreyfus. To-day the
witnesses were smaller yet — a string of unimportant
colonels and majors — yet everybody was looking keen-
ly forward to be thrilled. The explanation lay in one
name — Labori.
Even in the full gallop of French conversation eyes
perpetually shifted towards the door. And sudden-
ly, in a second, everybody knew that he was there.
There moved in the great figure in the white-edged
black gown, with the Httle black advocate's bonnet
clinging dandily to the side of his head like a sol-
dier's, with the big, eager face and the shock of unruly
He came in alert and eager, conscious, like all ora-
tors, of the effect he made, frankly delighting in it — a
spirit half electricity and half sunshine. Officers and
sight-seers and journalists alike leaped up and shook
the roof with clapping. He moved towards his place
breast-deep in hand-shakes. General Mercier got up
from his seat, walked over, and shook his hand. Awhile
the two stood bowing, smiling, talking easily — the
two champions in the mortal fight for a man's life and
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
the dominion of France — each accuser and each ac-
cused — each well knowing that the victory he is striv-
ing after is the utter downfall of the other. But for
those unaffected minutes Labori and Mercier were
nothing but two honest men and gentlemen. France
may have lost much that was great during these years
of faction, but there still remains French courtesy.
"Presentez-r-r-mesr The rifles clatter; the Court
enters, salutes, takes its seat. Then the President —
he, too, a model of suave and sincere courtesy — ex-
presses the sympathy of the judges, congratulates the
lawyer on his escape. He rises to reply.
"Do not tire yourself," says the Colonel; but you
might as well try to stop the earth in its orbit as the
natural orator when his feelings are aflow. He rises,
his huge figure just a little bent, his color the flush
of fever rather than of health, his voice retaining the
warmth and music of its old tones, but without the
fire and ringing steel — and out it pours. The words
rush out in a stream, yet, despite the softness of the
utterance, their articulation is such that from the back
of the hall you hear almost every one. He speaks of
the cruelty of the blow that struck him down at the
moment of realizing his two years' dream, of pleading
this case in all its amplitude before a military tribunal
— of his sorrow then and his joy to-day; he thanks first
the Court and then everybody, known and unknown,
friend and foe, who have expressed sympathy with
him ; gives all to know that he has come back to fight
and win; and concludes melodiously that the part of
error in human aflfairs is always greater than the part
of bad faith.
In an Englishman it would have disgusted; in a
common Frenchman it would have moved a kindly
smile; in Labori it touched and stirred and thrilled.
Here, at last, was an orator. Whether he meant it all
or not^ — and for my part I make no doubt he did —
mattered nothing to the oratory ; the rest of us, what-
ever we felt, could not have seemed to feel it as he.
A true orator — an actor with brains. His gestures, in-
stead of following his words as a clumsy speaker's do,
moved with them on the same impulse, spontaneous,
unconscious, the outward index of the spirit. His
voice swayed and swung, paused and hastened, glided
over this, hurled itself on that, till it became an au-
tomatic commentary on his words and played on the
hearts of men as a master plays on an organ. It was
not a man saying words; it was thought, feeling, and
purpose, coming out into words by themselves, and
coming out in perfect harmony with each other. It
was not a speech, but the revelation of a soul.
The witnesses came in and began to tell their unin-
teresting stories. But before the second had stood
down the air was suddenly quivering with combat.
Labori was fighting; and in a twinkle the whole aspect
of the case was changed. For twelve days the Gen-
erals had been ponderously attacking; an hour of
Labori and they were suddenly on their defence. As
the witness enters and begins his tale the advocate
is lying rather than sitting in the arm-chair they have
given him, one of the lowest heads in court, instead
of the highest as he had been the first day; his whole
aspect spells lassitude. The witness goes on; he slow-
ly sits up, and crouches his head close over the table,
like a lion watching its prey. The witness finishes;
slowly, slowly the great form upheaves itself, bent
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
nearly double over the table. His turn to question is
just coming; he raises himself erect and towers. And
then he springs. His voice is gentle, reasonable, per-
suasive, but he swoops on the vital part.
It was Major Rollin, the present head of the Intelli-
gence Department, that he swooped on first. Did Ma-
jor Rollin translate the Schneider forgery? No. That
question should be gone into with closed doors^ says
the Commissary of the Government, and like a flash
comes Labori's parry. It was General Mercier, not
he, who introduced Colonel Schneider's name and let-
ter; then, none contradicting him, he goes on his
way. Can Major Rollin tell him whom he is to ques-
tion about the translation? No. Then what is the
worth of documents which we cannot see, which we
may not discuss, for which it is impossible to know
who is responsible?
A second to feel the blow, but not to recover from
it, and then, gently, persuasively, how did General
Mercier come by his copy of this document? Gen-
eral Mercier will not reply.
"Mr. President, I insist!" says Labori.
The generals gasp; here, suddenly, is a man who
insists. "1 allow myself to insist" — the gentle voice
is rising — "that questions put very respectfully and
with great prudence shall be answered. We want
complete light. I insist'' — the voice is swelling to a
roar — *T insist upon General Mercier answering, for I
have a right to an answer."
Stupefaction! No help from the Court; no prompt-
ing from friends; General Mercier takes the respon-
"It is his own personal responsibility;" then, swift-
ly, mercilessly: ''I ask by what right General Mercier
has in his possession, all the secret documents?"
"But as General Mercier will not answer," says the
''But the law!" thunders Labori. ''There is a law
on espionage! When this document came into the
bureau General Mercier was no longer Minister. It
is a crime!"
Five minutes of time — a score of sentences as sharp
as rapiers, as crushing as sledge-hammers^ — and the
Dreyfus case is turned clean round. Five minutes
ago Mercier was the accuser. Now he sits silent — the
accused — accused under that very law on espionage
which he was pressing against Dreyfus. The advo-
cate has made no change in the evidence. But he has
put the other side in the wrong.
Henceforth there is only one man in the room, but
he fills it — the man who insists. The spectators watch
him and hold their breath when he rises to speak. The
Court sit and listen to his smashing blows in silence,
as if he were an uncontrollable force of nature. The
prosecutor sits paralyzed. The generals lay their
heads together. The witnesses give evidence
with one eye on the Court and the other on the cross-
examiner. The very gendarmes wake and follow the
trial. The very soldiers of the guard outside bunch
together, creep nearer, and peer into the hall at the
man who insists.
The Dreyfus case is Labori. He has all the dogged-
ness of Mercier, the subtlety of Roget, the clearness
of Picquart, the passion of Dreyfus himself. All eyes
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
to see the weak spot, lightning to strike, crystal to
argue and confute, inflexible iron to compel — now
luring Siren, now raging Berserker — Labori is the
very incarnation of the all-inquiring, all-constraining,
relentless, resistless, remorseless might of law.
At the end of the day Dreyfus turned and shook
his hand for the second time, and for the first time his
stony face broke and melted into a smile.
HIS COMRADES UPON DREYFUS.
Presently, on the same day, we saw the advocate
on his sunnier side. There came up to give evidence
Lieutenant-Colonel Bertin-Mourot, a soldier all over
and all through, breezy, simple-minded, kind-hearted,
thick-headed, transparently honest. You may be sure
that whoever goes on or whoever hangs back, his men
will follow Colonel Bertin. He gave his evidence like
a series of words of command^ — now pausing to re-
member, now checking to correct himself, now burst-
ing into a gust of exclamation, now turning with a
stentorian "No! No, no! Oh, no, no!" on an advocate
he suspected of tripping him up. It was thinking aloud
in a voice of thunder.
He had been Dreyfus's chief in the Second Bureau
of the General Stafif, and spoke of his habits. When
asked what were the hours of his bureau he replied
with feeling, ''We were supposed to go to breakfast
at half-past eleven, but how many's the time we've
not left till twelve or half-past !" When he began a
story telling how M. Sheurer-Kestner sent for him, he
cried, unafifectedly, "I suspected at once that it was
the Dreyfus case coming up in the healthy regimental
life I was leading." He told how he was walking at
Belfort with one of the Sheurer-Kestners, and passed
the factory of the Dreyfus family. "It is a peculiar
factory — in the centre a big chimney, on the right
nothing — a desert surrounded by walls. I turned and
said, 'There's Tropman's field — there's the field of
crim.e.' That shows I never doubted Dreyfus's guilt."
Here at least was no intriguer. Labori rose to cross-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
examine him, and there ensued the queerest, most ir-
regular, most irrelevant, prettiest scene of comedy
you ever ought not to have heard in a law court. "Does
Colonel Bertin remember," asks Labori, "that I had
the honour of dining with him at the house of a com-
mon friend a fortnight after Dreyfus's degradation?"
"Name?" cries hearty Bertin. Labori whispers. *'Cer-
tainly." "Does Colonel Bertin remember telling me he
considered himself one of the principal artisans of
Dreyfus's condemnation." "Artisan? No! Allow me!
The word is important." Then he goes on to explain
that he always had thought till the other day that he
discovered Dreyfus's treason, but now his comrades
assure him they discovered it while he was on leave.
"At any rate, Colonel Bertin spoke of the affair with
emotion." "Emotion! I should think so! One of my
old oflBcers condemned of high treason! I should think
so." "Does not Colonel Bertin remember speaking
very warmly about Maitre Demange — not in any
way that might wound him?" "When recalling a con-
versation it is important to bear in mind its atmos-
phere." "Surely." "Maitre Labori will permit me to
remind him that he was then, as he may be now for all
I know, the man who came up to me, took both my
hands, and said, 'Never shall I forget what you did
for my father.' And I honour myself to-day that I
may perhaps have had something to do with the giv-
ing of that well-earned cross to M. Labori, Chief In-
spector of the Eastern Railway. I found myself at
dinner with the son of this good M. Labori, who did so
well in 1870; evidently I talked to him with pleasure.
What I said I don't know. Will you go on with your
story, Maitre Labori? If I remember I will say to
HIS COMRADES UPON DREYFUS
you, *Yes; quite true; I remember.' " ''I hope," takes
up Labori, full of good humour, "Colonel Bertin un-
derstands that I am not setting a trap for him. First,
will he allow me to thank him from the bottom of my
heart for what he has just said and what I was not
expecting to hear?" "I am here to tell the truth,"
breaks in the jolly Colonel; "I have nothing to hide."
And so on. The conversation turned out to have
nothing in it at all, merely that the Colonel had said
that Demange was advocate of the German Embassy,
and that Labori, seeing how easily a good soldier could
believe a ridiculous fable, thereupon began to suspect
the innocence of Dreyfus. There was nothing in the
silly incident at all except sheer courtesy and mu-
tual kindliness. Sheer waste of time, of course, only
I do not think anybody grudged it. The Dreyfus
case is not so full of mutual kindliness as all that.
The remaining witnesses of August 226. and those of
the 23d and 24th, were — with one exception, treated
later — neither lengthy nor important. The first was
Lieutenant-Colonel Gendron, of the ist Cuirassiers — a
smart-looking officer who had done some service for the
Intelligence Department. He told us how he had
once been to see an Austro-Hungarian lady in Paris,
who was neither young, nor beautiful, nor virtuous,
but who knew a great deal about Austria and Hun-
gary. So did Colonel Gendron, whereon she said he
must be a spy. After he had gone away, the Colonel
reflecting on these words, and on the luxury wherein,
although neither young nor beautiful, she was able
to live, came to the conclusion that she must be a
spy herself. When Dreyfus was charged in 1894 with
having been to this same lady's house, he replied that
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Colonel Gendron went there, too, and so he supposed
there was no harm in it. Thus Colonel Gendron came
into the case, and all this he said in 1894. ''But there
is one thing," he added, with great solemnity, ''which
during four years I have just spent in Africa has dwelt
with a veritable anguish in my spirit, and which my
conscience tells me it is my duty to tell to-day. When-
ever they gambit like this you can always be sure
that something of sterling unimportance is coming;
and so it did. The question that inspired his anguish
was this: Why did Dreyfus, not knowing him, give
his name, of all others, as reference for the Austro-
Hungarian lady? And he darkly added that at that
time he had just quitted a most confidential post in
the Intelligence Department. It was most suspicious
— until Maitre Demange pointed out that he had, as a
matter of fact, asked himself that very question before
the Court-Martial of 1894. 'T thought I hadn't," was
all the Colonel replied — and went off presumably to
forget he had said it again, and suffer anguish of con-
science four years more.
The rest of the day was a procession of Dreyfus's
old comrades on the General Staff. Captain Besse
next testified that Dreyfus once came into his room
to bring a secret document up to date; it was agreed
on all sides that he had been ordered to do so by his
commanding officer. Major Boullenger said Dreyfus
knew a great deal about mobilization, and once asked
him a very significant question about changes in the
points of detrainment for the cavalry divisions of the
covering troops. Dreyfus said that the only question
he asked was, "Any news in the Fourth Bureau?" Next
came Lieutenant-Colonel Jeannel, who had lent Drey-
HIS COMRADES UPON DREYFUS
fus a firing-manual at a date he could not fix. On the
whole, he thought it was before July. Dreyfus replied
to this deposition that he never borrowed the firing-
manual at all, and that in 1894 the prosecution alleged
that he had learned of it from conversations in Febru-
ary and March, whereas Jeannel never saw the manual
till May. The last witness of the day was Major Mais-
tre, who likewise dwelt on Dreyfus's knowledge and
his insatiable curiosity.
Next day saw the procession of officers resumed.
Major Roy said that Dreyfus could easily have got at
the safes in the War Office where documents were
kept. Major Dervieu said the same, and added that
Dreyfus boasted of being able to come late to the of-
fice in the morning, with the implication that he stayed
alone after hours to make up his work. The prisoner
retorted that he came late only on the Mondays be-
tween August 1 6th and September 24th, during which
time his wife was away in the country and he spent
Sundays with her. Then came Captain Duchatelet,
who said that Dreyfus (a) once opened a bag of secret
papers, and (b) once told him he had lost either 6,000
or 15,000 francs at the house of a courtesan. Dreyfus
said that he opened the bag when on duty, which
witness agreed, and energetically denied the story
So far things had been dull enough. But now a faint
curiosity flickered up, for the next witness was one of
M. Quesnay de Beaurepaire's. This gentleman, you
must know, is an ex- judge who had constituted him-
self a sort of private public-prosecutor of Dreyfus. He
had published appeal after appeal imploring anybody
who had any evidence of the traitor's treason to com-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
municate with him at once. Many had, a queer lot
they were. One was a groom who said he had held
Dreyfus's horse while he followed the German ma-
noevres; one was a gentleman who said he had heard
one German officer say to another in a cafe, ''Well,
Dreyfus will soon bring us news about that." Another
was a gentleman w^ho said that he had been in the
Kaiser's bedroom and seen the words, ''Captain Drey-
fus is arrested,^^ written on a newspaper. A fourth
was a mysterious stranger giving the name of Karl,
who dragged the ex-judge all over France to rendez-
vous which somehow never came off, got him to ad-
vance large sums for expenses, and finally wrote to
him one morning — and to the Figaro also — returning
the money and assuring M. Ouesnay de Beaurepaire
that he was an ass.
The present witness was a gentleman giving the
name of Charles Louis du Breuil, landed proprietor.
He wore a tight-buttoned black morning coat and
light trousers, and looked perhaps less like a squire
than a shop-walker. He bowed with suavity to the
Court and began his story in the most approved novel-
istic style. "In 1885 and 1886 I lived in Paris, and it
was my custom to ride every morning in the Bois.
One morning, a few feet before me, in an alley near
the Cascade, I saw a horse slip on the ground, which
was this morning covered with snow, fall, and bring
down his rider with him. I did what anybody else
would have done in my place" — and so on. The fallen
horseman bore the melodious name of Bodson, the
owner of a shop in the Rue de Rivoli. The incident
produced an acquaintance, and acquaintance^ — only
after M. du Breuil had made inquiries and received
HIS COMRADES UPON DREYFUS
what he called "favorable information" as to M. Bod-
son's character and social position — became friend-
ship. He was introduced in due course to Madame
Bodson, in whose company was Lieutenant Dreyfus.
Soon after he dined with the Bodsons, and there
again was Lieutenant Dreyfus — and also an attache
from the German Embassy, with whom Dreyfus ap-
peared to be on most friendly terms. The patriotic
Du Breuil's resolution was quickly made. Next morn-
ing he told Bodson, politely but firmly, that he would
not go again to a house where he had met a German.
"Why, I'm delighted to hear it," cried Bodson.
"They're not my friends, but my wife's; and, as you
must have seen, Dreyfus is her lover." Then he add-
ed, "I could have him turned out of the Army to-
"But if you turned out every officer of the French
Army who has taken to himself his neighbor's wife,"
responded the knowing Du Breuil, "you would make
rather a gap in the Army list."
Bodson said he did not mean that, and proceeded,
as bourgeois husbands always do in French plays, to
dwell on the luxuries he allowed Madame Bodson,
and her ingratitude for the same. A day or two after-
wards Du Breuil asked Bodson whether it was be-
cause of the German attache that he said that, but
could get no direct answer.
"If I were you," thereon said the correct Du Breuil,
"I should go straight to the Minister of War. I be-
lieve you to be a good Frenchman, and it is your
"Easier said than done," replied the cautious Bod-
son. "I am in business; I have my shop."
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
"Whereupon," concluded Du Breuil, "I left him
and never saw him again. Voild, M. le President, ma
It was almost a pity to put any further touches to
a masterpiece Hke Du Breuil's; it was painting the lily.
But next morning the defence suddenly produced
from the back of the hall a gentleman named Linol,
liquidator of companies. He explained that, happen-
ing to be in court the day before, there had suddenly
fallen on his ears the name of Bodson. Now, he also
knew Dreyfus and the Bodsons in 1885 and since; he
was able to assert that the society they received, if a
little mixed, said the fastidious Linol, who himself
looked like a miller in Sunday clothes, was quite re-
spectable. Furthermore, Dreyfus's sister-in-law visit-
ed the house; furthermore, and here is the point, said
the perspicuous Linol, Bodson had assured him,
after the condemnation of Dreyfus, that he did not
believe the accused capable of treason.
The sentiments of Bodson being now thoroughly
elucidated, the way was clear for another branch of
the case. The contemporary evidence as to Dreyfus's
part was over and we could get on to Esterhazy. But
before we go on two points had come out very clearly
from the officers of the General Staflf.
The first was a very noticeable strengthening of tes-
timony since 1894 — ever since the appeal before the
Cour de Cassation early this year. What was then
an opinion had now become a conviction, and general
statement had hardened into particular and definite
accusation. Again and again Maitre Demange,
watchful if ponderous, called on the registrar to check
witnesses by reading their previous statements. Colo-
HIS COMRADES UPON DREYFUS
nel d'Aboville in his depositions here said that the
author of the bordereau must be a stagiaire, or officer
attached for a two years' course to the General Staff,
as Dreyfus was; in 1894 he only said he must be an
artillery officer and on the General Staff.
Major Boullenger in 1894 said that Dreyfus's ques-
tions were often indiscreet; here he particularized with
the highly suspicious story of his inquiries about the
cavalry of the covering troops. In 1894 Major Der-
vieu merely said in a general way that Dreyfus came
late to the office of mornings; in 1899 he said plumply
that Dreyfus sometimes stayed absolutely alone in
the office, between half-past eleven and two, and could
ransack every document in the place. Of course, the
Dreyfusards said that the order had gone out from
the generals; evidence was ruling light and everybody
was to make his contribution a little heavier. To my
own mind the fact is just as well explained less dis-
creditably; after five years of a subject a Frenchman
can talk himself into an honest belief in anything.
It is very possible also that the man who took no trou-
ble with his evidence in 1894, when Dreyfus's guilt
was taken on trust, could quite truthfully strengthen
it when the importance and contentiousness of the case
urged him to dig deep into his memory. In any case —
conspiracy, honest delusion, or truth — the fact re-
mained that the evidence against Dreyfus was being
pressed as it had never been pressed before.
The second point is a personal one — the attitude
of the prisoner. All through this series of witnesses
he was seen at his best. He sat unmoving while the
witnesses deposed — the strange, harsh profile, grimly
cut at the mouth by the black moustache, more rigid,
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
more immobile, more unearthly than ever. But at
the close of each testimony he rose and discussed it
— did not merely deny and protest, but discussed it,
neither hysterical nor automatic. His memory of
the incidents brought forward, whether true or false,
was for the most part wonderfully clear-cut — how
many times he must have threshed them over inside
his palisade! — but when he did not clearly remember
he said so without constraint. When there was a
plain justification for his action he said so plainly,
when there was a point which could be cleared up in
his favour by an inquiry he demanded inquiry. There
was no show of passion against his accuser. But for
one theatrical outburst : 'T love France and I love the
army, the country. Read over what I wrote in DeviFs
Island and you will see V' He was throughout the em-
bodiment of clear reason, logic, moderation.
His self-command was the more commendable in
that for two days he had to listen to the most unamia-
ble accounts of himself, and they were so unanimous
it was hard to doubt that they were true. We got the
picture of the old Dreyfus, the prosperous Dreyfus,
the unpurged Dreyfus as he was in 1894 and will never
be again. The picture is an ugly one. None of his
comrades liked him; most detested him. You will
say the other officers disliked him because he was a
Jew; say rather because he behaved like a Jew. He
was very able and very ambitious — but his ability and
his ambition appeared wholly selfish. He would shirk
laborious inquiries and then go to more conscientious
officers for the confidential results. He ''exploited the
situation,^' said Colonel Bertin.
He devoted, at the same time, great attention to sub-
HIS COMRADES UPON DREYFUS
jects such as mobilization which might get him a bet-
ter post in war time than that to which he was as-
signed. He was perpetually thrusting himself into
what did not concern him in hopes of getting some-
thing that might profit him. Like a true oriental, he
was very low with the high and very high with the
low. He could flatter his superiors, although that
did not prevent him from irritating them with his
importunate and impertinent curiosity. Among his
equals and inferiors he swaggered — ''in a choking
way," as one of^cer put it. He swaggered about his
knowledge, his cleverness, his quickness in learning
things, his late hours at the office, his money, his mis-
tresses. Supple, clever, secretive, acquisitive, un-
boundedly conceited, cheaply arrogant, tender within
his family, licentious outside it — he seemed made to fit
the anti-Semite imagination.
Of course none of this proves him a traitor. None
of it excuses these cowardly soldiers who let an un-
popular comrade^s guilt go by default. But that he
was unpopular who can wonder?
The principal witness on August 23d was Charles
Marie Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy.
On the whole, he is the most interesting and roman-
tic character that has yet come before the Court. Drey-
fus is more wonderful, no doubt, but Dreyfus's inter-
est is almost an accident; it is what was done to him,
not what he did, that makes him unique. Esterhazy
owes his fascination to no freak of fate; he is the cap-
tain of his own soul, and is what he is in virtue of his
Were he as commonplace as he is the opposite, he
would still be interesting as the one person in the
Dreyfus case who appears entirely on his own ac-
count. He favours neither side, but rails at both.
Neither has a good word to say for him; both sides
spew him out of their mouths.
Out of the cloud of irrelevancies, hearsay, and tittle-
tattle that daily befogged us there emerges this clear
rule of French military jurisprudence; anything from
anybody is evidence, except anything from Esterhazy.
Nobody believes a word he says, yet many are con-
vinced — may have the best of reasons to know — that
when he says he knows more than appears he is tell-
ing the truth. Whatever he does or does not know, it
is certain that, for reasons of his own, he does not
wish to say it, and nobody else much wishes him to
say it either. The revelations which he can (or can-
not) and will (or will not) make have kept France
agape for two years. It is no ordinary man who has
thus blackmailed the curiosity of the world.
I am not able to tell you what he looks like, for he
was not there. They merely read out his letters and
deposition before the Cour de Cassation. His photo-
graphs suggest him as a small man with wide open
eyes, predatory nose, huge bristling grizzled mous-
tache, and a big square chin; the whole face is nervous,
quivering, energetic, and passionate. Still, you cannot
trust photographs; so in his regretted absence you
must let his life and words speak for him.
He was born fifty-one years ago of a Hungarian
family, which has been settled over a hundred years
in France. It has given many distinguished officers
to the French Army, not the least of whom was his
father; he, in the picturesque words of his son, ''with
the point of his sabre inscribed on the standard of the
4th Hussars the fight of Kanghil in the Crimea.^^ Es-
terhazy the younger was brought up, after his father's
death, in Austria, and at the age of eighteen he en-
tered an Austrian cavalry regiment. He was thus in
time for the war of 1866, and was wounded by a lance
thrust in the chest at Custozza. Soon after he left
the Austrian service — nobody seems to know why —
and entered that of the Pope. With the Roman Le-
gion he took part in the battle of Mentana; but on
the outbreak of the Franco-German War hurried to
place his sword at the disposal of Napoleon HI. As
a sub-lieutenant he served through the war, being
attached, in 187 1, to the valiant army of the Loire.
Thus at twenty-three, Esterhazy had made three
campaigns in three different services. His life had
been that of a condottiere of the Italian middle ages —
and condottiere is exactly what he ought to have been.
What is better, he knows it. ''The Dreyfusite papers,"
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
said he in his deposition, "call me Reiter, Lanzknecht,
Condottiere. It may be; I glory in it. With soldiers
like me, men used to win battles, and such as I did
not abandon their comrades in the melly." Esterhazy
is the pure adventurer — a condottiere born four hun-
dred years too late. He is as veritable a sans-patrie
as any Jew of them all.
Fate had brought him into the French service, but
he cursed it and hated the French. 'The general,"
he wrote to a lady from Tunis, where he saw service
some eighteen years ago, ''is determined to play the
fool; we never doubted it. In the first real war these
great leaders will be ridiculously beaten, for they are
both cowardly and ignorant; once more they will
go to people German prisons, which will again be too
small to hold them." 'T should be perfectly happy,"
he wrote again, "if I were killed to-morrow as a cap-
tain of Uhlans cutting down Frenchmen." And he
goes on to gloat over the picture of "the sun red over
Paris taken by assault and given over to be sacked
by a hundred thousand drunken soldiers."
To Frenchmen such words were horrible, unspeak-
able. To Esterhazy, the Hungarian by descent, the
Austrian by education, who had fought for Kaiser and
Pope, as well as for Emperor and Republic, that he
should next serve another Kaiser as Uhlan was the
most natural idea in the world. It was the most nat-
ural idea in the world that the soldier of fortune should
dream fondly of the sack of cities. From all his life
emerges the same character of the free-lance. Even
before the highest Court in France his language — "I
will not repeat his military terms," as he says himself
of Henry — is the language of the camp. So are his
vices. He married a lady of good family and fortune.
"My chiefs were consulted/' he writes, with a charac-
teristic attempt at moral blackmail, "and represented
me to her family as an officer with a future," but he
dissipated the fortune, and was not constant to the
lady. His connection with Mile. Pays is to-day more
than notorious. "You will admit," he writes, "that it
is a queer army where one is obliged to give explana-
tions of a thing like that." Though he never tires of
calling himself a good officer and a good soldier, he
was far from assiduous in his regimental duties. If
he did not play he gambled on the Bourse. He was
erratic, untrustworthy, continually turning on his dear-
est friends. His conversation was wild and almost al-
ways inapposite. When he was trying to get into the
War Office he complained that Colonel Henry was
keeping him out. When he was told a few hours later
that Henry was working for him he cried, *'Why, if
Henry weren't nice to me it would be the end of every-
thing." He seemed that strange, but not unknown,
phenomenon — a man wholly without balance and
wholly without conscience.
And yet the extraordinary thing about him was,
that though he might leave his friends in the lurch,
they never left him. He borrowed money and abused
the lender if he asked for it again; but when he went
back for more he got it. He played a crooked part
in 1892 regarding the anti-Semitic duels, in which the
Marquis de Mores won fame; yet when he wanted to
be recommended for a place his fascination was such
that the very relations of those who had suffered
from him were unable to say No. He squandered the
goodwill of his own family and of his wife's, yet the
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
indefinable charm of his personaUty always gave him
plenty of interest when he wanted something done.
His mistress, Mile. Pays, remained devoted to him
after he was ruined, imprisoned, broke. He was as
gifted as he was winning. He spoke, says one who
used to know him, every language in Europe. He does
not, but you must remember that it is no common man
in France that can speak any foreign language at all.
He kept up with every discovery in every science, and
was widely, if not profoundly, read in military and
general history. He worked hard when he liked, and
work came easy to him.
All this builds up no ordinary character. But
thrown over all this is another attribute not easy to
define. It is Esterhazy's extraordinary way of envisag-
ing himself. He considered himself different from
other men. He is always thinking, always talking of
himself. He is one of those men who are always in
the centre of the stage of their own minds with them-
selves for the applauding house; and whatever part
Esterhazy saw fit to play he played it to the life.
To-day he is the struggling and heroic husband and
father; yesterday he was the frail but sympathetic sin-
ner: to-morrow he will say, *T am nothing, but I
am very worthy of interest and pity," because of his
ancestors and kinsmen who died for France, and be-
cause he is the last of his name. Next he is dignified,
he must be worth something, because generals and
deputies interest themselves on his behalf. Presently
he is pathetic and furious with his friends — ''Weil, the
friend of my childhood, for whom I have twice all but
taken sword in hand, whom I rescued, sweating fear,
from my friend the Marquis de Mores ; Cure who dan-
died my children while he was getting up stories
against me, and who has sought protection against
me from a general, like a baby of four from its nurse."
All owed everything to him ; all have deserted him.
When he was accused of treason by Picquart and Du
Paty de Clam gave him the liberating secret docu-
ment to blackmail the General Staff with, he turned
the screw on the generals and the very President with
the cool, undaunted adroitness of a Sforza. When
he came to tell the tale before the Cour de Cassation
another part hit his fancy. He was only doing what
his superiors wished : he was the sentry at the gate of
Pompeii — all loyalty and discipline, and deserted.
Dodging a dun or holding up the President of the
Republic, it was all one to Esterhazy: for he thought
himself the equal, or rather the better, of everybody.
From his theatrical habit of looking at himself he
seems to have grown imbued with a sense of the su-
periority of his spirit and the greatness of his destiny.
He had, indeed, all the attributes of a great man,
except greatness. To hear him talk he might be a
Napoleon at the very least. And because he had, af-
ter all, never made a figure in the world, he was forever
railing at fortune. He was born a disappointed man.
He aspired to everything, and what he got was noth-
ing. Half genius and half madman, ruined by his
own extravagances, a hereditary consumptive, with-
out patriotism, without conscience, gifted and soured,
he "had come to fear nothing, was ready to do any-
But to come back to the Dreyfus case: did he write
the bordereau? Well, he says so, and the best ex-
perts say so; so we may assume it as probable, if not
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
certain, he did. But was he a traitor, or did he, as he
says, write it to order, to condemn Dreyfus and shield
others? Who knows? Sometimes he says he knows
that Dreyfus gave up the documents, sometimes he
says he did not. He used to deny he wrote the bor-
dereau; now he says it was traced — God knows why —
from an original which he has to this day in his pocket.
He cannot understand why the witnesses at Rennes
did not say what they, and he, knew; yet he himself
says nothing. It seems most likely that it was he
who sold the documents to Schwarzkoppen. And yet
we must not call him traitor, for that is a crime he is
not capable of. Where there is no sense of patriot-
ism there can be no consciousness of treason. In his
times, four hundred years ago, everybody did it. We
will call him merely a condottiere drifted into his
A DRAWN BATTLE AND A ROUT.
The 24th of August was a day of resounding battle.
It began, tamely enough, with the fag end of Dreyfus's
contemporaries on the General Staff. But presently
''Bring in Colonel Maurel," says the President. Colo-
nel Maurel was President of the 1894 Court-Martial,
which condemned Dreyfus. As the lean face and huge
red epaulettes of the little sergeant-usher appeared,
preceding somebody to the platform, silence swept over
the hall, and eyes unconsciously turned to Labori.
The Colonel — he is now retired — was a shrunken
man, in a shapeless, shabby frock coat; his face was
small, his forehead was low, his nose concave and
sharp-pointed, his skin grey-green, his back humped.
He had just learned of an accident — I am afraid a fatal
one — to one of his children. But, making all allow-
ance, you sat aghast that such a mean and broken
atrophy should have commanded a regiment and pre-
sided over the case that has shaken France like an
earthquake. He quavered through his deposition in
a voice like himself; he had formed his opinions on the
evidence — especially on that of Bertillon, Du Paty,
and Henry — and so, he believed, had the other judges.
Yes; a communication had been received from Gen-
eral Mercier, to be used in clearly defined conditions
of time and place ; it was brought, not by Picquart, as
that witness had sworn, but by Du Paty de Clam.
He quavered to the end: "I have nothing else to
say." Then upheaved himself Labori.
"What were the documents communicated?"
The astounding answer came "I do not know. I
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
read out the first document; I did not read the others
because my conviction was formed." Gently, almost
tenderly — his habit when not resisted — Labori put in
the deadly retort. Colonel Maurel, as judge, knew
that he must conscientiously seek light on the whole
case: he knew that a communication he received from
the Minister must be sincere and give both sides of
the question — for the accused as well as against. Why
then did he not read the documents all through?
'T cannot answer," faltered the weak reply. Labori
asked for Captain Freystaetter, who was a member of
that Court-Martial, but he was not there. Then he
asked for Mercier. He had not yet cross-examined
the General, he mildly explained, because of his
wound. "As General Mercier is present," said the
President, 'T ask him kindly to step forward." Up
stepped the neat familiar figure; he was in uniform. It
was business. It was to the death. The Court hushed
again, feeling tight at the heart. The Commissary of
the Government was frankly frightened: he begged
that Labori would not discuss things. 'Tf Major Car-
riere is laying down rules on which we are agreed,^^
said the advocate, sweetly, ''well and good. If he means
to give me lessons, I do not accept them." 'T beg you
not to discuss," said the President.
And the fight began. To look at the two you would
have said there was only one in it. Mercier was small,
by comparison, and slight : in the tight black tunic and
red trousers of his uniform he looked yet slighter.
His oratorical equipment was slender: he had but
one gesture, a cramped movement of the right arm,
otherwise he kept his white-gloved hand behind his
back. His voice was deep, yet hard and dry like the
A DRAWN BATTLE AND A ROUT
croak of a bird of prey. His mental equipment we
knew to be small also. As he turned to face Labori —
low forehead, hooked nose, shallow chin, heavy eye-
* lids, and skin hanging loose from cheek bone to neck
— he looked more like a vulture than ever. Above
him towered Labori, the great loose-jointed figure
wreathed in the gown that hung round him like a
black toga — Labori with the gestures that fly to meet
the word, and the voice that draws like music and
shakes like thunder — Labori, the practised cross-ques-
tioner, the enthusiast, the man who has nothing against
him, the man with all the advantage of attack. What
possibility of anything but defeat for the General? But
Mercier took up his position and faced doggedly to-
wards his enemy. The fight began.
Labori opened with the grounds for the charge
against Dreyfus in 1894. Were there other charges
besides the bordereau f Yes — the secret dossier. Then
why did General Mercier not tell the other Minis-
ters? He told M. Hanotaux that he would not prose-
cute on the bordereau unless there were other charges.
Now, if there were, why did he not speak of them? If
there were not — but he has just said there were. "I
made no engagement with M. Hanotaux." Then Gen-
eral Mercier contradicts — that is the most moderate
word — M. Hanotaux. The council will remember that.
Now if the former charges were serious, why was the
bordereau dictated to Dreyfus by Du Paty? Why
did Du Paty say that if Dreyfus succeeded there he
would not be arrested? 'Tt would be one charge the
more." Then the former charges — the rich voice
filled the breathless room — the former charges were
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
He beat him back on "I had a certain indecision";
he buffeted him thence to *'No, these were as yet only
presumptions." But buffeted as he was, Mercier still
folded his white gloves coolly behind his back, still
held up his obstinate head. Labori went on to the
sudden arrest: was that because Mercier was being at-
tacked in the Press? But here he did not gain a foot;
Mercier was accustomed to being attacked in the
Press; he did not care. Labori produced a letter show-
ing that Henry was working with the Libre Parole to
force the Minister's hand; Mercier sullenly wondered
whether it was forged. Labori brought his battery up
to shorter range: why was the bordereau originally
assigned to April? Mercier did not know? Not know?
Then M. le General in 1894 was completely ignorant
of the arguments for Dreyfus's guilt? Back goes Mer-
cier a foot: not completely, but ignorant of the details.
Was the bordereau then a detail ? Mercier stands fast ;
no, but it was the prosecutor's business, not his, to
fix its date.
So shifted back and forth the stubborn duel. Mer-
cier was retreating nearly always, but retreating slow-
ly* doggedly, with his rear-guard facing the enemy. He
refused to give any account of his thoughts; it was
quite enough, he grimly said, to have to answer for
one's words and deeds. When Labori spoke of his
examination as an "interrogatory" — the word used
for the examination of an accused person^ — and as a
"discussion," Mercier turned sharply, and for the mo-
ment beat him back. Once he counter-attacked smart-
ly. "I ask," said Labori, "what has been done with the
thirty-five million francs which, according to Gen-
eral Mercier, have been sent from England and Ger-
A DRAWN BATTLE AND A ROUT
many for the cause of Dreyfus?" "Perhaps I might
ask you that," retorted the General.
Again and again Labori drove him to silence or re-
fusal to answer; but he never broke him up. The big
man used every artifice of eloquence and forensic clev-
erness; you could see his face and all his gestures, and
he seemed a terrible antagonist. Of the little man you
could only see the smooth, narrow back of his head
and the clasped white gloves. He looked once more
like a naughty boy before his schoolmaster. But he
stood up doggedly under his punishment; he came
up again gamely after every blow. The cold, passion-
less voice never faltered. As he had showed no hate
before Dreyfus, so he showed no fear before Labori.
He was still the Grand Inquisitor — the man who was
as ready to stand torture for his own faith as to torture
others for theirs.
Labori shifted his battery to yet another position.
The letter of Panizzardi, presumably to Schwarzkop-
pen, beginning, 'T send you the manual" — the letter
of which Henry cut off the top and the bottom for
his forgery, the letter which bears the date "June,
1894," in red ink at the top — when did that come into
the Intelligence Department? Mercier thought that
perhaps General Gonse would know. General Gonse
came up, and in a second the whole hall was in a tu-
mult, and the duel had become a general action. Officer
after officer sprang up in the body of the hall, dashed
on to the platform, took up position, unlimbered,
opened fire. Gonse. nervous and reluctant; Roget,
waving his hand, dancing about the platform, his neat
white moustache bristling with rage; Gribelln, the ar-
chivist, delighted to hear his voice again; Lauth eager,
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
but cool and ready — the Alsatian! — when everybody
else was losing his head; Carriere, the Government
Commissary, fearful of what this wild bull of a La-
bori would do next — they were all six of them in action
together. Mercier, Roget,, and Gribelin in the firing
line, Gonse and Lauth in support, Carriere in reserve
— and Labori against the six, pouring in invective,
logic, satire like case-shot. The echoes of the cannon-
ade were tossed from wall to wall and mingled in mur-
murs under the roof. Then they sank and stilled as
suddenly as they had risen. A three-cornered collo-
quy was going on between Labori, Mercier, and Gen-
eral Chamoin, a courteous, bald-headed gentleman
in charge of the secret dossier. And then Labori and
Mercier were both limbering up and drawing off their
guns for the day.
It was a defeat for Mercier, and yet it had not been
the rout his enemies had hoped for. He had made im-
portant admissions. He had allowed that his knowl-
edge of the Dreyfus case, and even his conviction of
his guilt, dated from a period subsequent to the trial
of 1894 — that is, were formed at a time when, in moral
and professional self-defence, he was in a way bound
to hold Dreyfus guilty. It had been made clear that
if the bordereau was written in August, 1894, Paniz-
zardi's letter about the manual, dated June, 1894, was,
supposing it and its date to be genuine, no evidence
against Dreyfus. Thirdly, and most damaging for
Mercier, was General Chamoin's statement that Mer-
cier had communicated to him from Colonel du Paty
deClam a version of thePanizzardi telegram beginning
with the words, "The Ministry of War have a report or
a proof of a secret offer made by Dreyfus to Ger-
A DRAWN BATTLE AND A ROUT
many." This was, of course, a wilful and diabolical
falsification. All this was bad for Mercier. On the
other hand, Labori had got nothing else of significance
out of him. And one very important point Mercier
had made — that whatever had or had not been done in
1894 was irrelevant, that the decision of the first
Court-Martial had been quashed, and that the only
question now was the original one — whether or not
Dreyfus gave up secrets to a Foreign Power. Thus
Mercier astutely withdrew his weakest point out of fire.
The finish and crushing climax of this flight came
two days later. Captain Freystaetter, one of the
judges of 1894, had been called for on the 24th, but
was not present. On the 26th, sandwiched between
two devastating experts in handwriting, he was sud-
He came up on the platform — the manliest figure of
a man that had yet stood on it. Under the uniform
black tunic, dark-blue trousers, of the ]\Iarine Infan-
try, you could see that while not very tall, he was
broad, and built with great strength. He wore a long
moustache and pointed beard, his cropped hair was
prematurely grey, his face lined and worn to a brow,
nose, cheek-bone, and chin, yet hard, steadfast, and
resolute. Were he an Englishman you would put him
down to the Navy; and it did not need the four war-
medals on his breast to tell you that while other
men in this case were riding in the Bois, Freystaetter
had been pushing through the jungles of Tongking,
Madagascar. But more than that was in his face —
in the contracted brows and the eyes half hunted, half
determined. It was the face of a man who has been
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
on bad terms with his conscience, who knows that to
reconcile himself with it will mean the loss of half his
friends, may likely mean the ruin of his whole life —
and who is about to do it.
He took the oath and in a firm voice began to speak.
The sleepy hall looked up — and in thirty seconds it
was awake, breathless, pulseless, trembling. Frey-
staetter used no preface, told no story, made no speech.
He simply stood up and said, 'T was a member of the
1894 Court-Martial. My conviction was formed on
the evidence of the experts, of Du Paty and of Henry.
Only I must add that I was slightly influenced by
the secret documents communicated. They were (i)
a biographical notice charging Dreyfus with treason
committed at the School of Pyrotechnic at Bourges,
at the Ecole de Guerre, and on the General Staff; (2)
The Canaille de D document; (3) The Davignon
letter; (4) A telegram from a foreign military attache
definitely asserting the guilt of the accused. This tele-
gram, if I remember right, ran: Dreyfus arrested,
emissary warned" The whole hall leaped with excite-
ment. It did not need Labori rushing in to follow
up the blow to remind us that here was a telegram that
really exculpated Dreyfus presented in a falsified
form to inculpate him — when General Mercier had
sworn it was never presented at all. Or that here were
four documents read out — when Colonel Maurel had
sworn he had read but one. We had come to it at last
— the lie direct.
In dead silence Maurel quaked up to the platform
and turned a green face, not towards the President,
but up towards Labori. His voice was all but a shriek,
yet clear, as he raised a forefinger and said, "I said I
A DRAWN BATTLE AND A ROUT
only read one document, but I did not say that only
one was read." A low roar thrilled from the hall. He
went on, 'As M. Freystaetter has told all, I passed the
papers to my neighbour, saying I was tired." Again
that muffled roar of wonder, of indignation, of an-
guished agitation. "Had the telegram the words
Emissary warned^' "I do not remember. I only read
the documents in a listless way." Then broke in again
the voice of Freystaetter, harsh with emotion, but loud
and insistent. "Not only did I read them, but Colonel
Maurel had them all in his hands and commented on
each as he passed it to us."
General Mercier came up to the bar, unflinching as
ever, and even the cold inquisitor's voice rang with
passion. "What was the document betrayed by Drey-
fus at the School of Pyrotechnic?"
"It concerned a shell."
"Then Captain Freystaetter is caught in the act of
lying. The Robin shell was not betrayed until 1895.
As for the telegram, I still maintain it was not shown to
Freystaetter stood with his kepi crushed under his
arm, his head and jaw thrust forward as he turned on
Mercier with all the stubborn rage of a fighter and
a little of the contempt of a plain man for a liar. "I
say the words were in the telegram," he hoarsely cried.
"I never said that there was a telegram or any docu-
ment whatever speaking of a shell. I simply said that
there was in the commentary an accusation which
concerned treason at the School of Pyrotechnic, and
that that treason did concern a shell. I am saying
nothing to-day of which I am not absolutely sure."
Every soul in court believed him.
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
"I must insist that M. du Paty de Clam be medical-
ly examined," cried Labori. ''General Mercier says Du
Paty made up the packet." '1 did not," said Mercier,
fighting to the last. 'T said that I did not make it up
myself." Now the hall was dead silent as with con-
sternation. We seemed to be on the very brink of
who knew what bottomless abyss of fraud. 'T now
learn," added Mercier, ''from General de Boisdeffre
that it was Colonel Sandherr."
On the choking hall fell the rich thrilling voice of
Labori. "Dead," he said, "always the dead. Sandherr
dead ! Henry dead ! Du Paty de Clam does not come."
The President checked him sharply, and heaving ag-
itation sank to the mill-pond of expert evidence in
handwriting. Captain Freystaetter came down looking
like a brave man who had seen the Devil — scared but
defiant. He sat down all by himself, neither with the
Dreyfusard witnesses nor with the anti-Dreyfusards.
In the place reserved for simple soldiers, who serve
France, eschew party, and tell the truth, he sat down
FACSIMILE OF THE BORDEREAU
There was once a time, in the childhood of the world,
when we were anxious to see Dreyfus taken to
and from the court of a morning. In those simple
days they set a watch about all the streets whence he
could possibly be seen. As you approach the Lycee,
out of the speckless leisurely streets of Rennes, you
come on a barrier of armed men. Eight cavalry horses
are yawning over eight troopers, who hold their bridles
as they sit on chairs in the middle of the road. Half a
dozen infantry soldiers sit on chairs on the pavement.
Two gendarmes sit on chairs in the gutter.
A little white ticket will take you through the cor-
don, and you are under the walls of the Lycee. A buzz
issues through the windows. Half-way along the wall
is a wooden water-pipe, down which trickles a scanty
rivulet of envelopes — news of the Dreyfus case. About
the lower end of it a gendarme and about half a dozen
messenger boys sit on chairs. As you pass in — I say
"you"; anybody that likes can borrow a ticket and
pass in to-day — there are half a dozen soldiers sitting
on a seat and spitting on the flags. The courtyard
is thickly sprinkled with witnesses and journalists
smoking cigarettes. In the hall itself, before the judges,
a bald, grey-bearded old gentleman, with a baggy
jacket and incredibly short legs, is sitting in a chair
and giving his views on handwriting. His name is
Belhomme, and there is no need to say more of him
than Esterhazy, whose cause he is pleading, has put
on record — "This Belhomme is an idiot; you have only
to look at him!" The whole hall — judges, counsel,
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
public — looks as if a shrapnel shell had burst over it.
Some are flung backwards, with their heads over the
backs of chairs; some have fallen heavily forward, with
their heads on tables; some heads have collapsed into
chests; all are half dead.
The experts in handwriting began on Friday morn-
ing, the 25th of August ; it was now the 29th, and they
are not over yet. All but the two first were inaudible ; it
mattered the less in that they all contradicted each
other positively. Of the two audible one was irrele-
vant and the other incomprehensible. The first ap-
peared to the unofficial public as a bald head and the
back of the amplest frock-coat I ever saw. In front of
these was M. Gobert, expert, as he assured us in a fat
voice, to the Bank of France. 'That means something,"
whispered an enthusiast beside me, and so it doubtless
does, only neither that nor anything else could mean
all that M. Gobert meant it to mean. On the strength
of being expert to the Bank of France, M. Gobert
gave a detailed history of the commencement of the
Dreyfus case. He described the bearing of various
generals, which appeared to him highly suspicious. For
example, one day he found General de Boisdeffre sur-
rounded by a group of officers ; but on his appearance
the General asked them to go away. That reminded
M. Gobert (expert to the Bank of France) that in 1894
he was treated as a suspect witness because he wished,
before giving his conclusion, to know the name of the
accused. "But I will not complain," he said, mag-
nanimously, after complaining for a quarter of an
hour; "that unfortunate" — he waved himself towards
Dreyfus — "has suffered more than I have." After that
he talked for half an hour about himself, and suddenly
said, ''Gentlemen, I do not wish to speak much of my-
self; but I will; for, gentlemen, I am expert to the
Bank of France." At the end he said, "I am sorry
my time is limited; otherwise I could prove to you the
date of the bordereau." Now the date of the bordereau
is the principal crux of the case. 'T do not insist,"
added the magnanimous Gobert.
"If you can tell us you may," said the President,
ever hopeful of enlightenment. ''Why, then, there is
a letter of Esterhazy dated August 17th, which I call
the key of the Dreyfus case. It is written on the
same paper as the bordereau, and in it he says he
has just been for a fortnight to the school of firing at
Chalons. The bordereau concludes with the phrase,
'I am just starting for the manoeuvres.^ That phrase,"
said the expert, slowly, "has its importance." (It
has been discussed by all the master-minds of France
for five years.) "Now Esterhazy on August 17th
had just been to the manoeuvres for a fortnight,
therefore he was just going to the manoeuvres about
July 25th. That," he added, with the proud humility
of the true discoverer, "I give you for what it is
worth." As everybody knew the facts and everybody
had discussed the inference for the first fortnight or
so of the trial, there seemed to be an impression that
it was not worth very much. One of the judges had
the idea to ask him some questions as to handwriting,
but on that point the expert to the Bank of France was
jejune. "I did notice something," he said, "but I have
forgotten the details."
He went off heavily, and M. Bertillon bounded on
to the scene.
He is a little man in a black frock-coat and more
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
and blacker hair than you would think could grow —
his head a hogged mane, his cheeks and lips and chin
like the bursting of an over-stuffed sofa. You felt that
if you passed your hand over his head it would draw
blood from you and sparks of electricity from him. He
bounded up, and then turned and looked behind him;
toiling in his rear were four soldiers, stalwart beyond
the wont of France, bent double under a table and vast
portfolios. These were his professional properties —
the plant wherewith he was about to demonstrate
mathematically the new Bertillon system — the guilt of
In a low but firm and rapid voice he began to ex-
pound. Presently, warming to his work, he leaped
upon his portfolio, tore it open, and dashed at the
President with a framed photograph. He darted from
judge to judge; the Government commissary and the
registrar and the counsel gathered round, till nothing
remained of Bertillon but a muffled patter and a cen-
tral wriggle. Then, suddenly, with a wild whoop, he
burst out of the throng, waving the frame round and
round his head like a tomahawk. "Five millimetres
reticulation,'^ he yelled, in triumph; "12.5 centimetres
gabarit and a millimetre and a quarter imbrication !
Always you find it — always — always!"
I desire to speak with respect of the new Bertillon
system, because the other day I almost understood it.
It begins thus. Here is is the bordereau; is it a genuine
document or a forgery? I rule horizontal and vertical
lines over it at a distance of five millimetres, and what
do I find? I find that the words which occur twice —
manoeuvres, niodification, disposition, copie^sll be-
gin, within a millimetre, in exactly the same part of
one of the squares I have ruled. It is 5 to i against
this happening in any single case; against its happen-
ing in all these cases it is 10,000 to 16. Add all the
other words — which he did not specify — that follow
the same law, and the chance becomes 100,000,000 to
I. Conclusion: this could not happen naturally. The
bordereau is forged.
Now, who forged it, and why? Take, again, the
polysyllables that are repeated in the bordereau — ma-
noeuvres, inodiUcatioii, and the rest. Place one over
the other, and you find the beginnings coincide, while
the ends do not. But shift the word that comes earliest
a millimetre and a quarter to the right, and the ends
This is all very curious. But when I came to exam-
ine the writing of Alfred Dreyfus done in the War
Office, imagine my astonishment to find that it also
presented the same pecuHarities. Only there were
many letters in the bordereau which diflfered from
those used by Dreyfus — particularly an "o/' in the
form of a little circle in the line connecting the letters
before and after it, and a double ''s," with the first
letter short and the second long, whereas Dreyfus
made the first "s" long and the second short.
Next I took the letters seized in Dreyfus's house.
Imagine my astonishment to find that the writing of
Mme. Dreyfus and Mathieu Dreyfus presented exactly
the forms of letters used in the bordereau, except the
double "s" ! Then I found a letter dated "Muhlhausen,"
and signed "AHce"; imagine my astonishment to find
that Alice made her double "s" exactly like the writer
of the bordereau! Then I investigated a letter of Ma-
thieu Dreyfus — a year old^found in the prisoner's
THE TRACEDY of DREYFUS
blotting-book. Imagine my astonishment to find that
its polysyllables presented just the same phenomena
as those of the bordereau and Alfred Dreyfus's work
at the War Office! It contained the phrase "quelques
renseignements/' which is also in the bordereau; place
one on the other, and the beginning and end coincide;
shift the phrase from the blotting-book a millimetre
and a quarter to the right, and — imagine my — aston-
isment ! — the middles coincide also.
Now, why was it done? It is obvious who did it.
Who but Dreyfus had access both to the War Office
and his own blotting-book? The case is now clear.
Dreyfus wished, in case his treason was detected, to
have a defence ready. Therefore he forged the docu-
ment to imitate his own writing with touches of his
wife's and Mathieu's and Alice's. If his treasonable
documents were found on him — as in his overcoat or
in his desk at the War Office — he could say, 'This is
a forgery — a plot against me!" and demonstrate by
the five-millimetre squares and coincidences of words
that the thing was traced. If the thing were found on
him at the War Office he could point to the official
documents he had written as the basis of the fraud;
if at home, to Mathieu's letter and his wife's, and
Alice's. If, on the other hand, one of his documents
went astray undated and unsigned, and were recog-
nized as his handwriting — which is what actually did
happen — he could point to Mathieu's "o" and Alice's
double "s" as proofs that it must be in the handwriting
of somebody else.
Nay, more; he actually did begin that contemplated
defence. He said to Henry and to Cochefert that this
was a plot. He said to Du Paty de Clam, 'They have
stolen my handwriting." He said to d'Ormescheville,
''They have taken bits from a letter of mine." Why,
then, did he not pursue that line of defence? Because
he saw I had detected him. "When he heard me say
'demicentimetric reticulations/ " said M. Bertillon,
with pardonable pride, "his face congestioned, and he
said, audibly, 'the wretch !' "
But how did he do it? He could not have a model
ready of every word he was ever likely to use; there-
fore he could not have traced the bordereau from his
War Office letters or yet from the writing of Alice or
Mathieu. The explanation lies in one word — gabarit.
A gabarit, as its inventor handsomely allows, might
just as well be called anything else; however, we will
go on calling it gabarit. I like the sound. A gabarit
is a master-word slid along the line of writing under
the thin paper you are writing on. You form your
letters on it. When the letter under your pen is not
the letter you want to write you retouch it, just as
you might retouch and alter letters of your own writ-
ing into something else — could make "o" into "d,"
for instance, or "i" into "I." Dreyfus's gabaritic
master-word was interet, written end to end again and
again. Only it was written not in one series, but in
two, one over the other — the second beginning a milli-
metre and a quarter to the right of the beginning of
the first. That accounts for the coincidence of the
two "quelques renseignements'' and the other repeated
polysyllables when you shift them that distance. Drey-
fus began the long words on letters of one of the
chains formed by the word "interet/' and then in the
middle of it shifted on to the other. The idea was to
vary the writing and make it look natural; at the
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
same time he knew that, if it suited his defence, he
could always show that it was traced.
So , if you write interetintcretinterct . . . long
enough and then write over it — beginning a millimetre
and a quarter to the right of the leftmost point of the
first "i" — intcretinterctinterct . . . again — there is
your gabarit, and you can write the bordereau for
yourself just as surely as Dreyfus did. And that is
the new Bertillon system.
Gabarit: the new parlour game — it will be an excel-
lent amusement for the long winter evenings. How-
ever, as I say, it should be taken seriously, for it is
amazingly clever. If I had seen the diagrams I should
probably understand it better and think it cleverer still.
We know from Captain Freystaetter that it impressed
the Court-Martial of 1894; I think it also impressed the
Court-Martial of 1899. It seems to me a perfectly
feasible and convenient way of disguising your hand,
and I do not dare to criticise it on its own ground. I
will only say that it seems also a very convenient wav
of proving to a half-honest man, who wished to believe
Dreyfus guilty, that Dreyfus is guilty.
As for its parent, when he had finished his deposition
he had finished the Dreyfus case. He did not even pre-
tend to take any notice of his cross-examination. He
trotted up and down about the platform packing up his
luggage; if anybody asked a question, he just looked
up and said, ''Very likely. I don^t know. I don't
And then on top of him came a gentleman named
Matthias George Paraf Javal. (That would make a
good gabarit, by the way — paraf javalparafja'valparaf-
jav . . .) He brought a blackboard, at which he shook
his fist and made most horrible grimaces, expounding
the while in a squeaky voice the theory that Bertillon's
measurements are all wrong, and that the bordereau
does not as a matter of fact fit the gabarit. To-day
came on M. Bernard, a mining engineer — of course, he
would know — explaining that Bertillon's theory is the
negation of all logic and the abrogation of the laws of
probability. We may leave it to them to fight out,
which they were only too anxious to do ; only, happily,
the President would not let them have it out in court.
In the meantime I — if I may — will suggest one or
two considerations of my own. The weak point of the
system is that it was too plainly built on Dreyfus's
guilt instead of Dreyfus's guilt resulting from it. If I
were a traitor and wanted to mix somebody else^s hand-
writing with my own, I should not select my wife's and
my brother's ; and if I used Alice's, I should not leave
her letters lying about my house. If I were clever
enough to use a master-word so as to disclaim my writ-
ing in case of detection, I should probably also be clever
enough to know that in case of detection my house
would certainly be searched, and I should not leave m}
master-word lying in my blotting-book. Finally, if I
were such a careful traitor as to write on a master-
word, I should not send covering letters with my docu-
ments at all. M. Bertillon asked himself this question —
Why the covering letter? — and concluded that it was
written on the master-word as a means of defence, as
explained above. But presumably the documents of
which the bordereau speaks were also written on the
''gabarit," since they were just as likely to be seized or
to miscarry as the covering letter. It would be no use
disguising the one and not the other, and if the docu-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
ments were disguised, why send the bordereau?
Rather than go out of my way to run unnecessary risk
and do unnecessary work on a ''gabarit/^ I should al-
most choose not to be a traitor at all.
If a prisoner in England were stated to have made a
confession of guilt sandwiched between two energetic
protestations of innocence; if he had at no other time
made anything even distantly resembling a confession ;
if the supposed confession rested on the testimony of
only one living witness; if that witness had sometimes
asserted and sometimes denied the statement he came
into court to support ; if the confession had not been
made public for over two years from the time it was
said to have been made; if the witness to it acknowl-
edged that, having made a note of the words used
some thirty hours after the event, he had kept it three
years and then suddenly destroyed it, at the moment
when it became public property; if, finally, the pris-
oner, knowing nothing of the fact that the alleged con-
fession had been published, had been interrogated on
the subject, and had quoted his expression in words
which almost exactly coincided with the alleged con-
fession, yet meant something absolutely different and
contradictory — what would an English judge say to
such a confession?
You do not need me to tell you. The English judge
would refuse to hear another word of it. But the
French, in perfect good faith, look at confessions in
quite a different way. Our justice aims at proving a
man did a thing; that of France at inducing him to say
he did it. The whole duty of a juge d' instruction — all
the brow-beating cross-examination that is volleyed
from the bench at a French prisoner, and which seems
to us so contrary to the spirit of justice — is founded on
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
the theory that the best, even the only satisfactory,
proof of guilt is the confession of the accused. "Has
he confessed?" is the Frenchman's first questipn when
he hears a man is arrested. And, having been brought
up in the belief that confession is the first duty of a
criminal, he usually has.
Therefore this alleged confession of Dreyfus, half an
hour before his degradation, to Lebrun-Renault, the
captain of gendarmes who was on guard over him, has
been considered of capital importance by most French-
men. Some of the principal witnesses in this very
trial said that they placed it first among the evidences
of guilt. It was first made public by M. Cavaignac in
the Chamber in 1898, and was ordered to be posted up
in every commune in France. Lebrun-Renault leaped
in a day from nothingness to universal fame.
On the last day of August we began the public sit-
ting late; the Court had sat with closed doors to con-
sider technical and very secret questions of artillery.
Nobody quite knew who would be the first witness in
the public part of the sitting. A man was fetched in by
the usher in a dark uniform ; as he went up to the bar
I noticed that he wore a shinv black belt, unlike an of-
ficer, just like a gendarme. He was a big, beefy man
with a big, ruddy, square-cheeked face and a very big
moustache; he had the air of being strong but not well
knit — power without the activity to apply it. He sa-
luted the Court with a tremendous flourish, and I said
to myself that he looked very much less like a soldier
than a policeman. Next instant, in an abrupt voice
as big as himself, he announced his name — Lebrun-
He gave his evidence like a policeman — like a po-
liceman who has light-heartedly given evidence against
a prisoner on what he thought a matter of forty shil-
lings or a week, and then finds himself before the
House of Lords. He told his story simply, unhesitat-
ingly and very loudly; but his words came out in jerky
mouthfuls that seemed to suggest nervousness. To
my mind he was quite sure he was telling the truth, but
was a little frightened of the enormous importance
that had suddenly fallen upon him. You can judge of
his simple nature when he said: "I spoke to him of
New Caledonia, which I knew, and where I thought he
might be sent ; in short, I behaved to Captain Dreyfus
with all possible humanity.'' But when it came to
cross-examination he resolutely refused to be drawn.
Before the Cour de Cassation he had said, in his beefy,
unjudicial way, "The declarations of Dreyfus can quite
well be considered as not a confession ;" it was plain to
the eye that Lebrun-Renault was perfectly ready from
day to day to consider anything as either itself or its
opposite. To-day, however, he was more wary. "Con-
sider it what you like,'^ he said with breezy tolerance.
"Some may consider it a confession, others an explana-
tion of his conduct. That is every man's own affair.
I give no opinion. I only judge the fact. Dreyfus
said so and so to me; that's all." He did indeed ex-
plain his own conduct in one particular: General Mer-
cier sent him to tell the President of the confession
next day, but he did not do so because he overheard
somebody in Casimir-Perier's room speaking rudely of
him. With this one exception Lebrun-Renault told
his story, but bluntly declined to do any thinking about
it. Thinking, he all but admitted, was not his strong
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
However, Lebrun-Renault's statement was not all.
He said that there was also in the room at the time a
Captain d'Attel, who is now dead. So next, in the
French manner, we had a captain to swear that d'Attel
told him he had heard Dreyfus confess, and then a lieu-
tenant-colonel to swear that Lebrun-Renault told him
he had heard Dreyfus confess, and then a major to
swear that the captain had told him that d'Attel had
told him that Dreyfus had confessed, and then a first-
class controller to swear that the lieutenant-colonel had
told him that Lebrun-Renault had told him that
Dreyfus had confessed. I was waiting to hear myself
called on to swear I had heard the controller tell the
Court that the lieutenant-colonel told him Lebrun-
Renault told him Dreyfus had told him he delivered
documents, when I heard General Gonse admitting
that when challenged by Picquart as to the guilt of
Dreyfus he said nothing about the alleged confessions.
Presently came on a retired Major — Forzinetti, by the
same token, who was governor of the Cherche-Midi
prison while Dreyfus was there, and lost his post for
proclaiming a belief in his innocence. He said, first,
that he knew d'Attell well, and was sure from his char-
acter that if he had heard Dreyfus confess he would
have said so in his private conversation, and also would
have reported the fact officially, whereas, in fact, he
had done neither. Second, said Forzinetti, Lebrun-
Renault had told him that Dreyfus made no confession,
and that he had said as much to General Mercier at
the time. This Lebrun-Renault admitted quite cheer-
fully, but said he denied the confession under orders
from his superiors. And now you are as fit as I am to
form an opinion whether Dreyfus confessed or not.
It is just another of the hopeless mazes of discrep-
ancy and contradiction which make you despair of
human certitude and human veracity, and especially of
getting to the bottom of the Dreyfus case. And there
have been two or three other speeches attributed to
Dreyfus which mystify the mystery still further. One
of his guards deposed before the Cour de Cassation
that he heard Dreyfus say — "As for being guilty, I am
guilty, but I am not the only one." He was answered,
"Then why do you not give the names you know?''
Whereto Dreyfus is said to have replied, 'They will be
known in two or three years." This tale was discred-
ited at the time and was not repeated at Rennes. In
prison he is said to have begged that he might be
taken away for a year under police surveillance while
the aflfair was more thoroughly investigated. And he
is said to have said before several witnesses, "In three
years I shall return and justice will be done me." Tak-
ing all these things together, the haunting doubt floats
down on you again; what is there, you ask yourself,
that is at the bottom of all this but will not come up?
Were there accomplices in the War Office, who prom-
ised the scapegoat that he should be sacrificed only for
three years — and then broke their promise for their
own greater safety, knowing that Dreyfus could never
accuse them without doubly damning himself?
Or else there are two other suppositions. One is
that Lebrun-Renault honestly mistook something he
really heard. His reports of the words have not been
precisely consistent. But before the Cour de Cassa-
tion he quoted Dreyfus thus: 'T am innocent. In
diree years my innocence will be recognized. The
Minister knows it, and a few days ago Major Du Paty
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
de Clam came to see me in my cell and said that the
Minister knew it. The Minister knew that if I had"^
delivered documents to Germany they were of no im-
portance, and that it was to get more important ones
in exchange." Dreyfus, interrogated on Devil's Isl-
and eleven days later, and not knowing the text of this
evidence, said his words were: ''The Minister knows
well that I am innocent. He sent Du Paty de Clam to
me to ask if I had not given up some unimportant doc-
uments to get others in exchange for them. I
answered no." If you cut out of Lebrun-Renault's
version the repeated words, "the Minister knew it," and
the full stop, you get Dreyfus' version almost word for
word. On this showing it does look very much as if
the gendarme really misunderstood words which Drey-
fus really did use.
The other supposition is less agreeable. The ru-
mour of a confession having got into the Paris papers,
always hospitable to the wildest and most unauthenti-
cated tale, Generals Mercier and Gonse sought out Le-
brun-Renault next day, and persuaded him by bribes
or threats, or simply by clearly insinuating ideas into
his bovine head, to say that Dreyfus confessed. He
was too afraid of his new story to repeat it to the Pres-
ident, but having written it down — this after he had
seen the generals, mark you — gained confidence. There-
after he talked of the confession at large, sometimes
affirming and sometimes denying it, according to the
fancy of the moment. But whenever there was a trial
* M. Cavaignac's version, copied from Lebrun-Renault's
note-book, and Lebrun-Renault's own deposition at Rennes,
say instead of "had" "have."
concerned with the Dreyfus case, the generals always
brought him up to the scratch to affirm again.
You will say that it is too cynical to hold this second
view when it is possible to hold the first. Perhaps.
Yet the truth is that Alercier and Gonse have com-
mitted and admitted in court so many acts of scoun-
drelism that I believe them to be — like Habbakuk,
whom Gonse resembles personally — capable of any-
Summer passed into autumn. The mornings nipped,
the evenings dripped, and the leaves were yellowing;
and still the Dreyfus case went on. Presently Indian
summer came in on autumn — the sultriest, steam-
ingest days we had known even in sultr}^ Rennes; still
the Dreyfus case went on. But even the Dreyfus case
was yellowing, too. A few days more would see the
last of it, and, with a tightening of the heart, men be-
gan to reckon the chances.
Many thousands of words have been shed in vain
if you do not understand by now that the trial of Drey-
fus was not in the very least like a trial in England.
To begin with, there were the two trials going on at
the same time in alternate chains, like M. Bertillon's
gabarit — the Dreyfus case and the Esterhazy case. If
one was proved guilty — which, in the first days of Sep-
tember, neither had been — the other was automatically
acquitted. Then there were the tributaries of the main
stream — the Picquart, Henry, Du Paty de Clam, and
Mercier cases. But for the last week — thanks largely
to the efforts of M. le President — we had left these
almost entirely aside. We were gripping ourselves for
the finish upon the Dreyfus-Esterhazy case.
For another point of dissimilarity to England, the
defence had been going on more or less all the time
parallel to the prosecution. We had Bertulus and
Picquart for, sandwiched between Roget and Cuignet
against. Freystaetter cropped up in the middle of the
handwriting experts, and the experts themselves came
in alternate layers of for and against.
The experts, indeed, were the point of transition
from attack to defence. Up to them the witnesses
had mostly accused; after them began the defence
proper. It also was mixed up with stray witnesses for
the prosecution, who had somehow got shuffled into
the wrong pack. But the five main divisions of the
prosecution — the secret documents, the presumptions
supplied by the bordereau, the personal demeanour of
Dreyfus on the General Staff, the handwriting of the
bordereau, and the alleged confession — had been all
finally presented; and by September 6th we were at
the end of the testimony that had been presented to
This period of the defence was a duel between two
men — Roget and Labori. Mercier and Gonse had
been badly discredited, Picquart was almost silent on
the other side; Roget and Labori fought out the case
to the finish. Roget was in truth playing advocate
for the prosecution just as the other was for the de-
fence. He had not been concerned even indirectly
with any of the half-dozen branches of the afifair; nom-
inally a witness, he was there simply and solely to
plead the cause of the generals. It was impossible
not to admire the spirit, resolve and cleverness with
which he fought the case. He was quite as good as
a good lawyer. At every moment when the defence
seemed to be scoring, his grey-white head rose out
of the witnesses' seats with, 'T ask to be heard." Every
witness that seemed Hkely to weigh he countervailed
with one of his own. Labori cross-examined him; but
he had no vulnerable point to assist attack, and Labori
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
did little with him. He was never disconcerted; for
every occasion he had a denial or a distinction, a re-
partee or a quibble, a gibe or a lie.
And yet to observers hitherto unprejudiced the only
effect of Roget was to inspire a fierce partisanship for
Dreyfus. The French admired Roget — his elastic if
fleshy form, his ready smile and jest for the reporters,
his elaborately graceful attitude on the platform, his
turn to the audience after each hit, the bully's face
thrust right into his opponent's with a sneer or an in-
sult. To the stolider Anglo-Saxon all this was mere
mummery; what they saw and detested was that Roget
was obviously on the make. He was doing his ut-
most to destroy Dreyfus, not to save himself like the
others, but to make himself. He, who stood only to
win, was a bitterer foe to the broken prisoner than
the men who stood to lose their all. From Dreyfus's
second living grave he hoped to rise Governor of
Paris, Minister of War, perhaps President, perhaps —
who knows? — higher yet. Such would have been a
dishonourable ladder to fortune for anybody. For a
soldier, of all men, to elect to make his career out of
a medley of politics, law, diplomacy, intrigue and
crime like the Dreyfus case, was almost too despicable
to be worth despising.
But Roget, however you might hate him, was put-
ting in good work for his side; Dreyfusards were not
quite so sure of Labori. They thought he irritated
the Court unnecessarily; also that he would have done
better to stick to the points that bore directly on Drey-
fus, as Demange did, instead of fighting the complex
cases that have risen out of them. Labori was acting
for Picquart quite as much as for Dreyfus; it was
said — I know not whether truly or not — that he was
actually briefed by Picquart, in which case it was of
course his duty to plead for the man who paid him.
You remember that Labori had been especially con-
cerned with the later developments of the case; he had
never so much as set eyes on Dreyfus till he saw him
in the prison of Rennes. It must be said too that the
line between Dreyfus and Picquart was not easy to
draw. The judges were evidently taking no interest
at all in Picquart's case, and not very much in Ester-
hazy's. Dreyfus was the man they had to try, and
they pined to confine the case to him. But whenever
the President objected to a question of Labori's, it
was comparatively easy for the lawyer to show that
the charges against Picquart were used to invalidate
his evidence against Esterhazy, which in turn was
legitimately used on behalf of Dreyfus. It was diffi-
cult to draw the line, and Labori was able in the last
days of the evidence to deal some resounding thwacks
to Picquart's enemies. General Gonse he reduced to
pulp. That decrepit model of Aapoleon III. trembled
visibly ever}^ time he was called up to the bar; his
voice deserted him; he owned to dishonesty after dis-
honesty committed to keep Dreyfus in prison and
Esterhazy free; in the end his very protestations of
good faith became only a matter of form. This was
efifective politically, but legally it was futile, since
Gonse had nothing to do with the Dreyfus case
proper. But from General Zurlinden, on September
6th, Labori won a most important admission: no less
than that the General did not believe that Picquart
forged the petit bleu — the more significant in that it
was Zurlinden who arrested him on that charge.
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
The same day — the 6th — General Billot, emerging
from slumber and hearing his name mentioned, trotted
up onto the platform and delivered a short speech in
defence of his action while Minister of War. He
seemed, as always, thoroughly sincere, and moved
to alternate rage and tears. Touching in the course
of his remarks on the Dreyfus case, he incidentally
threw out a suggestion that Dreyfus and Esterhazy
might be accomplices in treason. He meant nothing
by it — the worthy, kindly old man never means any-
thing by anything — but in a second the whole court
was in a tumult. Labori sprang up baying. Dreyfus
sprang up livid, his snarl swelling to a howl. ^'I pro-
test against this infamous assertion," he cried.
*'Maitre Labori, be moderate," said the President. "I
am moderate," roared Labori. "Your voice is not."
*T am not master of my voice." "Everybody is master
of his own person." Retort struck fire on retort. The
President's "sit down" came like rifle cracks; Labori's
"I will; but first I say " like artillery. The Presi-
dent half rose and threatened with his white-gloved
hand; Labori stood up and flung his arms wide, the
eyes under his shaggy brows were lightning, and out
of his deep chest crashed thunder. And then Labori
said what he wanted to say. The storm sank more
suddenly than it had burst; only the cheers and groans
of its echoes were left reverberating among the audi-
Such contests — this was only a little louder than
what happened every day — filled the enemies of Drey-
fus with indignation and his friends with nervousness.
Of these, some said Labori was over-impetuous, some
that the President was unfair. I thought both were
wrong. As a matter of fact, the questions of Labori
which Jouaust refused to put were generally such as
did not need putting — rhetorical points which, as
Labori himself said often enough, had done their
work as soon as he uttered them. It was absurd to
expect the Colonel to ask a General how he reconciled
it with his conscience to do this or that. The Colonel
would have been abused for life for sitting by and
allowing the army to be insulted; and it would have
done Labori no good, for a French general can rec-
oncile it with his conscience to do anything. After all,
though the scenes looked terrible, I do not think either
President or advocate took them to heart. It looked
most grave; either Jouaust, you would say, must have
been cashiered or Labori disbarred. In realitv it was
all in the day's work to both of them.
But we must get back to the evidence — and now
for the balance. Was it guilty or not guilty? The
five parts of the case had been presented by the de-
fence in the reverse order of their presentation by the
attack. The confession and the experts came in the
middle. Of Captain Lebrun-Renault and his suppor-
ters and their assertions and their admissions you have
heard enough already. On the whole, that part of the
case may be held to have cancelled itself out; cer-
tainly Lebrun-Renault was not unshaken enough nor
even sure enough of himself to send Dreyfus back to
Devil's Island. The experts cancelled themselves out
likewise. M. Bertillon made a great impression: his
system is far too neat and superficially logical not to
impress Frenchmen. But the counter-Bertillons —
Paraf Javal and Bernard, who denied his theories and
disputed his measurements — had their effect too.
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
And of the handwriting experts proper — not that they
matter much — the defence seemed to have the best
authenticated. All these experts, except the obviously
imbecile or utterly inaudible, were listened to with
such attention by the judges that I think they also can-
not but have cancelled each other out and left a net
result of nothing.
The third branch of the accusation rested on the
personal demeanour of Dreyfus. Almost every officer
who was on the General Staff with him agreed that
he was obsequious to his superiors- bumptious to his
equals, greedy of information that might turn to his
personal advantage, but inclined to shirk labours for
whose results he could sponge on others without
trouble to himself. The defence had not tried to dis-
pute this character ; probably it is a true one ; but with
an intelligent and impartial Court it does not spell
The only relevant part of this branch of the evidence
was that which charged Dreyfus with perpetually
sneaking about the office in the wrong rooms and the
wrong hours with a view to picking up secrets that did
not concern him. To meet this, the defence produced,
on September ist, an officer of artillery named Major
Ducros. He was engaged in the invention of a gun
between 1891 and 1894, and was acquainted with an-
other new and especially confidential gun, which was
adopted by the French army. He knew Dreyfus, and
appears to have been the only man who liked him.
Several times he asked him to breakfast with a view
to telling him all he knew. For a man who was sell-
ing artillery secrets this information would have been
priceless; yet Dreyfus never came to breakfast, and
never accepted the offers of information about the
The next point was to get back to the bordereau.
The endeavour of the early witnesses for the prosecu-
tion — Mercier, Cavaignac, Roget — had been to show
that Dreyfus alone was in a position to betray the
secrets indicated in it; that Esterhazy certainly was not.
In general, you may say that the tendency of the gen-
erals was to magnify the importance of the informa-
tion betrayed, that of Picquart and Labori to water it
down to what might be picked up by a major of in-
fantry at a school of field-firing. Another point was
to show that the language of the bordereau was tech-
nically incorrect, and therefore more applicable to
Esterhazy than to Dreyfus. Accordingly for two days
we fought our way through a jungle of artillery ex-
perts. The prosecution had a general of the name of
Deloye — a gentleman with a long white beard that
made him out a cross between Michael Angelo's
Moses and a he-goat — who took two hours of closed
doors to expound to the Council the innermost secrets
of the hydro-pneumatic brake of the 120-millimetre
short field gun. On the other side was a major of the
name of Hartmann — a big, chubby-faced man with
almost the finest moustache of the trial — who deposed
at prodigious length, sometimes with open doors,
sometimes with closed, on hydro-pneumatic brakes.
The major, as does sometimes happen, appeared to
know the subject far better than his general. The
conclusion he came to was that if the traitor of the
bordereau gave away detailed information, he must
have been one of a very small number of officers em-
ployed either in the foundries or the office of the Di-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
rector-General of Artillery; of which officers Dreyfus
was not one. If the information was general, it was
accessible to any officer of any arm who attended the
manoeuvres of 1894 at Chalons even for one day; of
which officers Esterhazy was one.
For all that, the case against Esterhazy could hardly
be called flourishing. Several journalists — among
them an Englishman, Mr. Strong — proved that Ester-
hazy had made confessions, for newspaper purposes,
of having written the bordereau. But in every case he
had carefully added that he did it at the order of
Colonel Sandherr, and that Dreyfus really did betray
the documents mentioned in it. This theory was so
equally embarrassing to attack and defence that each
believed as much of it as suited them, and the judges,
I fancy, none of it. Then there was a Jewish lieutenant
of artillery — one Bernheim — who swore that Ester-
hazy, whom he hardly knew, had borrowed a range-
finder from him and, though often asked for it, had
never returned it. More to the point was a fact which
arose on the 6th, from an apparently rambling cross-
examination by Labori about the petit bleu: that Count
Miinster had written to M. Delcasse in April this year,
stating that Schwarzkoppen avowed he had sent a
number of express letter-cards to Esterhazy, and the
one intercepted might very probably be by him. That
was as near proof of Esterhazy's treason as we could
expect to get without Schwarzkoppen himself at the
On the whole, you might say that attack and de-
fence — leaving aside the secret dossier, which could
not be very conclusive either way, or we should have
heard more of it by now — ^were pretty evenly balanced.
Both sides had tried to make out much the same case
on very similar evidence; and — if we rule out diplo-
matic evidence on the admitted French principle that
all diplomatists always lie — neither Dreyfus nor Ester-
hazy had so far been proved guilty. An even balance
ought to mean acquittal — only with seven French offi-
cers, who had probably made, and rightly made, Drey-
fus's guilt an article of faith for five years, for whom
Dreyfus's guilt stood till almost yesterday as a sign
of trust in their legitimate chiefs, who had perhaps
lost friends for the guilt of Dreyfus, whose moral and
intellectual self-respect might almost depend on the
guilt of Dreyfus — what of them? It was asking some-
thing of them to cast out the passions of years at the
bidding of an academic benefit of the doubt.
The Dreyfusards had hoped — against reason, it
seems to me — for some providential intervention that
would make the prisoner's innocence clear beyond
doubt or cavil. It had not come.
And then, at the very end of Saturday's evidence,
came up a completely average young Frenchman —
open face, dark moustache, voluminous morning coat
and light trousers — who began to lisp rapidly evidence
about the bordereau and the manoeuvres. He gave the
name of Captain de Fond-Lamothe : nobody had ever
heard it before; he had never appeared in any of the
previous Dreyfus cases; nobody knew who he was.
He explained that he was now an engineer, but that
he had been with Dreyfus through the two years'
course on the General Staff. "I love the army," he
said, ^'and I have a brother in garrison here at Rennes.
But it is my duty to say that the bordereau cannot be
by any General Staff officer of Dreyfus's year. If it
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
was written in April, he could not have had the firing
manual. If it was written in August, he could not
have concluded, 'I am just going to the manoeuvres.'
For every one of us knew in May that we were not go-
ing to the manoeuvres. Here is a circular distributed
to us on May 17th that proves it. I beg that it be
read." It was read. Dreyfusards glowed; anti-Drey-
fusards went pale.
''And that,'' said M. de Fond-Lamothe, lisping with
terrific energy, "knocks the bottom out of the accusa-
And it did. Five generals hurried up to confute
him, but not even Roget could hector him out of his
syllogism. There was the circular; could anybody
dispute it? Dreyfus had the circular; therefore he
knew he was not going to the manoeuvres; therefore
he did not write the bordereau.
True, the undefeated Roget, after sleeping three
nights on it, did come up with an answer. It was
quite true, he said, that the circular made it certain
that officers in Dreyfus's position could not go to the
manoeuvres, as hitherto, with a regiment; but they
might go on a stafif. As a matter of fact, he admitted,
none did go, but that was because the General Staflf
office in Paris happened to be busy at the moment.
Next day he produced a Major Hirschauer, who had
been on the General Staff at the time — there seemed
to be an inexhaustible number of such ready to swear
to anything — who swore that Dreyfus was very
anxious to go to the manoeuvres. Dreyfus retorted
that he certainly would have liked to go, but never
asked to ; and Picquart, his chief at the time, bore him
out. Further, Dreyfus added very cogently the writer
of the bordereau says, "I am just starting," not "I may
soon start," or "I hope to start." The writer was cer-
tain of it, whereas he himself admittedly was not and
could not be.
If he had only been as ready and as candid always,
his chances would have looked very bright at this
moment; but he was not always.
There was no getting over it: Dreyfus did not give
the eflfect of a frank man. One day he made a particu-
larly poor impression. The charge against him — do
not laugh; it was serious for him — was a character-
istically shaky one of M. Quesnay de Beaurepaire's,
that he had followed German manoeuvres about Miihl-
hausen. He had subsequently made this a subject for
swagger, as was alleged, to one of his comrades. If
he had said, "Yes, I was riding out near Miihlhausen
and saw German regiments manoeuvring. I stopped
to look at them. Would not any of you, gentlemen,
have done the same?" it would have been nothing at
all. Instead of that he paused, hesitated, stammered,
asked to have a question repeated that was audible all
down the hall. First he denied; then he qualified.
First he said he had been present at no manoeuvres;
then that he may possibly have seen German regi-
ments manoeuvring; but that this was not, properly
speaking, manoeuvres. He felt that he was sur-
rounded by people who would make the most of any-
thing he admitted; and so he did not admit anything.
He was afraid to tell the simple, innocent truth.
Great events from little causes spring. The little
cause was a young gentleman giving the name of
Cernuschi. He described himself as an ex-officer of
Austrian cavalry and a descendant of a Servian royal
family; but he looked more like a Viennese waiter. He
approached the judges with a bob like the bow of a
jointed doll, and indicated that, not speaking French
very well, he had, with the assistance of his wife,
written on a piece of paper what he knew of the treason
of Dreyfus. His knowledge appeared to be compre-
hensive but vague. He knew an official in a foreign
embassy in France. This gentleman had warned him
as a political refugee — such was Cernuschi's present
profession — that Dreyfus might betray him to a for-
eign Power. This conformed with information he had
received from a foreign officer, once near the person
of his sovereign, but now engaged as a spy. He had
also seen at this officer's hotel numerous plans and
other confidential French military papers. The spy
had freely shown him these, with the remark, "Why
have Jews unless you use them?" He begged to be
allowed to name no names.
Such was the simple story of Cernuschi. He might
have added that he had been put under restraint and
dismissed the Austrian service for insanity, had been
put under restraint at Zurich for the same reason, had
abandoned his twin children at Caen, had swindled
numerous people in Alenqon, was in debt everywhere,
and had been sold up — facts which came pouring into
court in streams, and which would have materially
increased the interest of his deposition. Three days
afterwards he was ill and unable to attend for public
examination; altogether he was not a happy effort of
M. de Beaurepaire's.
But the consequences of M. Cernuschi seemed for
the moment overwhelming. Labori was crouching
over his desk ready for a spring. ''As the other side,"
said he, "has not hesitated to call in foreign testimony,
from which we have always abstained, I shall ask the
Court to find out by diplomatic channels whether the
documents of the bordereau were given up, and to
whom." He was not correct, for Mr. Strong had al-
ready given evidence tending to Dreyfus's innocence,
and the objection was rather to foreign official tes-
timony than to foreign testimony as such. None the
less, that afternoon Labori telegraphed to the German
Emperor and the King of Italy, begging them to allow
Schwarzkoppen and Panizzardi to come and give evi-
dence at Rennes.
In an hour the whole case was once more turned
topsy-turvy. Schwarzkoppen was the one man who
not only knew the truth but whom everybody knew to
know it. With Schwarzkoppen at the bar the trial
would begin all over again from a fresh point. It was
the Dreyfus case all over, that just when it was in sight
of its end, after twenty-seven days of evidence, a wit-
ness should be invoked who would make every word
yet spoken not only stale, which it notoriously was
already, but also irrelevant. For a couple of days the
Dreyfus af¥air was in the melting-pot. Nobody knew
when it would end now, still less how. If Schwarz-
koppen did not come, Labori's appeal might look
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
uglily like the drowning man clutching at a straw. If
he came he would of course declare positively for
Dreyfus as he had already done diplomatically; but
would he be believed? For this would be evidence
"from those," as some of the ofricers were always say-
ing, ''whose interest it is to deceive us," What pre-
cisely was the interest of von Miinster and von
Schwarzkoppen in getting Dreyfus oflf, they never ex-
plained. "It is setting the receiver of stolen goods to
catch the thief," they aphorized; but they forgot to
mention that the receiver had retired from business,
and that neither of the two suspected thieves could
ever steal again, Dreyfus acquitted could never be of
any use to Germany. But the accusers — well knowing
that official foreign testimony alone could irrefutably
demonstrate the innocence of Dreyfus= — lost no chance
of insisting that all foreign testimony was, as such,
suspect, misleading, worse than useless.
But we were spared that difficulty, and spared with
it the prolongation of the weary trial. Maitre Labori
received unofficial news on the 7th that neither of the
ex-attaches could come to Rennes, but that both
would willingly answer any questions put to them by
a rogatory commission. Labori drew up his ques-
tions: the last and crucial one was, "Have you ever
had any direct or indirect relations with Captain Drey-
fus?" The Commissary of the Government had no
objection to their being asked. But the Court found
it had no competence to order such a commission; the
summoning of testimony depended solely on the dis-
cretionary power of the President. And Colonel
Jouaust firmly declined to summon that of Schwarz-
Here was another turn of the kaleidoscope. The
case which yesterday had seemed incHned to run on till
the Day of Judgment was suddenly all over. The
meaning of that was plain enough. The judges had
made up their minds. True the discretion was nomi-
nally the President's alone; but even if two or three
of the judges had been strongly in favour of getting
Schwarzkoppen's evidence, Jouaust could hardly have
refused. Conviction seemed the only ground of the
Council's action: men of their broad intelligence — I
am saying exactly what most of us thought at the
time — could hardly have been taken in by the simile
about the receiver and the thief. Dreyfus was either
lost or saved — only which? For my part — I admit it,
though you know how wrong I was — I thought it
looked uncommonly like salvation. The judges had
seen in Colonel Maurel the pitiful consequences of a
hasty and unconscientious judgment in such a case:
would they risk the same consequences for themselves?
Moral courage is not the most plenteous of French
virtues: if these seven were going to take the conse-
quences of ignoring such vital testimony on the pris-
oner's side, they must either have resolved to acquit
him anyhow or else be the boldest and the most
shameless men in France.
One way or another it was done, and the case
swooped to its end. Before we knew, the last scraps
of evidence had been swept up and the Commissary
of the Government had begun his speech. As he rose,
the officers in the witnesses' seats rose too. The Min-
ister of War had ordered them to leave Rennes as soon
as the speeches began. Generals first, colonels, ma-
jors, captains, subalterns, the crimson and gold lace
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
streamed out of the hall. There remained nothing
military but the judges and their substitutes on the
dais, and the peasant boys on guard at the bottom of
the hall. The army as politics and faction was gone;
the place was left clear to the army as justice and order.
Then spoke up the Commissary of the Government.
Mr. Commissary Carriere had up to now been nothing
in the trial but an element of humour. He is a retired
major of the age, I think, of sixty-six, and he is a law
student of the University of Rennes. That sums him
up fairly well — the conscience that impels him to fit
himself for the official position he has retired into, the
mediocre head that makes it necessary. This same
head of his was the most extraordinary thing in court;
the skull was almost exactly of the shape of a horse's.
An old, worn, slightly vicious, very willing horse he
looked with his flat forehead, beaky nose, sparse grey
hair, big grey moustache, and peering eyes hidden by
glasses. He had taken hardly any part in the trial —
had never asked a single question, I think, of a single
witness. He had displayed a laudable desire to facili-
tate any investigation that was suggested, a pro-
nounced distrust of Labori and a good deal of uncon-
scious humour. When Labori had suggested an
adjournment to get Schwarzkoppen's evidence, he
said, 'T freely consent if it will not take too long. But
if it means that we are to begin these debates all over
again, then I answer No, no, no!" Another day he
said testily, "I think it very hard that while the defence
is allowed to speak whenever it likes, I, the Commis-
sary of the Government, am refused a hearing." **Be-
cause you always ask to speak when everybody else is
speaking," replied Jouaust swiftly, and added to the
resultant laughter a discreet smile of his own. They
had sat on court martials together before; and I am
afraid that the one man to whom the Court paid no
attention at all was Major Carriere. And it surely was
the unkindest stroke of fate that flickered this honest,
dull, rather inflated, very conscientious gentleman
right into the very middle of the Dreyfus case.
He is endowed with a thin voice, slightly cracked; he
speaks slowly, but with prodigious emphasis, and hurls
his emphasis impartially on every word, as if all that
comes out of his mouth is to be considered equally pre-
cious. Therewith he gesticulates most elaborately; if
the word does not give time for the gesture he leaves
off speaking till it is successfully finished. He looks
as if he were performing, very methodically, very
conscientiously, a new sort of sword exercise, with
which his words are only used to mark time; he
finishes almost every sentence straight from the shoul-
der with a tremendous lunge in tierce.
You would have said from his record that his
speech would be ludicrously feeble; but it was not. So
far as you can sum up the evidence of over a hundred
and thirty hours in an hour and a half, Commissary
Carriere did it fairly well. When he felt that he did not
know any part of the subject, or that his case was not
very good, he passed it by. When he felt the ground
firm under him he stamped on it. He avoided, for
example, the hydraulic brake of the bordereau, where
the subject was highly technical and the defence
strong, and made his point on covering troops, which
the defence had comparatively neglected. On the
other hand, he saw that it would be fatal to glide over
the crucial phrase about the manoeuvres, and insisted
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
strenuously that Dreyfus and his comrades only
learned verbally on August 28th, 1894, that they would
not go. As for the writing, he made ingenious use of
the numerous rough draughts that Dreyfus made of
his letters from Devil's Island to argue he was trying
to alter his handwriting — why? Thence he passed
summarily — still putting his whole soul into every
syllable^ — over the secret papers, on which it cannot
be said that he shed much light. When he came to
Esterhazy, he was again on surer ground. He threw
out once more the suggestion that he may have been
the intermediary between Dreyfus and Schwarzkop-
pen, but flung every force of his being against the idea
that he could be held responsible for the treason dis-
closed by the secret papers. Thus Major Carriere
wrestled to the end of his speech. It was a good end
— for him — and once more you saw that no French-
man can escape being an orator. *T began my study
of the case with Colonel Picquart's essays on it in the
hope — yes, the hope — of proving Dreyfus innocent. It
would have given me happiness; it would have flat-
tered my self-esteem to prove him innocent. My con-
viction has been gradually transformed by this mass
of evidence; my conviction of his guilt has been
strengthened. On my soul and conscience, Dreyfus
Thus ended the 7th ; on the 8th came Demange. It
was known that he would speak all day, and I, for one,
looked forward to it with gloom. There had been
nothing brilliant, nothing dashing about Maitre De-
mange. He looks exactly what he is — a plain lawyer,
who wants to win his cases, and is quite satisfied when
he does. He would stand as the type of lawyer any-
where — fat, clean-shaven, ruddy-gill ed, with an ex-
pression compounded from the vinegar of jurispru-
dence and the sweet milk of humanity. Were he an
English Q.C., which he might be perfectly, you would
pronounce him at once a Bencher of his Inn and a
judge of port. He had fought the Dreyfus case, if
''fight" is the word, like a lawyer, Labori like a poli-
tician — a demagogue or a tribune of the people, which-
ever you prefer. It was said that neither quite liked
the other's methods, though no sign of disloyalty
came from either. As a fact, they supplemented each
other admirably. When Labori was away, Demange
certainly did incline to be sluggish. The evidence
which he ignored may have been contemptible to him,
but he allowed a mountain of prepossession to rise up
in the minds of the judges. With Labori there to force
the game Demange was admirable — knowing the case
in every line, sticking rigidly to minor points, irritating
nobody. You will see the way he conducted his case
in one instance. The last day of the evidence General
Mercier came up and in a sneaking way tried to dis-
count Freystaetter's evidence by wholly inapposite
and slanderous researches into his past. The Frey-
staetter scene, you remember, was the most smashing
blow, controversially, that Mercier received. But De-
mange yielded the general his point instantly — at the
same time maintaining his own. "No need to insist,"
he said; "we are here in 1899 to try Dreyfus on the
evidence; what happened in 1894 is not in the least to
the point." Nor was it.
Demange got up, hitched up his gown, and took a
look at the judges with the placidity of a man who
knows his business and is just about to do it. And
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
then he began his speech quite quietly. No raising
of the voice, no gestures, no flourishes of language —
just a plain reasonable man speaking to plain reason-
able men. But before he had spoken two sentences
you saw that here was a master. Not a great emotion-
al orator — for aught I know, not a great lawyer — but a
great pleader, a master of his business, which is to per-
suade men. He began by saying he would make no
exordium, which at once accredited him to the judges,
stated with words and words and words. In five min-
utes he was making an exordium^ — so cunningly that
they did not know it. It was the old classical trick
of attracting your hearers' sympathy at the outset, and
Demange did it with supreme skill. A witness had
said that whoever believed in the innocence of Dreyfus
was an enemy of the army and the country. "If that
were so," he said, and his voice was rising, "neither
Labori nor I would be here." And then his arm began
to move as though despite himself, and his voice began
to swell and shake — "When I thought a moment that
there might be danger to what I have been taught from
childhood to respect, to honour, to love — I, a French-
man — I, a soldier's son — well, yes, I too, suffered
with your sufferings, and my heart beat in unison with
He was one of the judges from that moment. Not a
pleader for the man against whom their natural preju-
dices revolted, but a plain honest patriot like them-
selves, trying to see whether patriotism could not leave
room for justice and mercy. He might henceforth
persuade them, and he might not; but, in any case,
they would now listen to him. He worked them up a
moment with a glance at Devil's Island and then
brought them down to a point of law. Here he was a
plain man who happened to know the law just inform-
ing plain men who might happen not to. Then he had
them back to France and the flag, then to the agonies
of the banished husband and father. One moment
he had them all anxiety to learn, to understand, to
appreciate; the next a couple of them were in tears.
When he had them well disposed, he entered on a sur-
vey of the evidence. Not one word did he say whereby
the fiercest partisan against Dreyfus could be ofifended.
He was not there to of¥end, but to persuade. Now he
was severely logical, now slyly sarcastic, now all pity,
now all indignation, now all common sense. His
voice and manner changed with the subject and the
method of treatment; one moment he was sluicing out
words sixty miles an hour, the next hanging on every
syllable; in seven hours — four on the 8th, three on the
9th — he was never monotonous for a moment. He
never let the judges out of his hand for an instant.
They were his raw material, and he worked them,
worked them, worked them with the zeal of an appren-
tice and the knowldge of a master. He was not think-
ing of Picquart, nor of Esterhazy, nor of the General
Staff, nor of France, nor even, as a man, of the worn
but hopeful face below him. He was thinking of the
odd judge whom he might win over, of his case, and
of his client. It was his business to get that client off,
and he would do it if it could be done.
When he finished, at eleven or so on Saturday morn-
ing, he wrapped a huge muffler round his throat. He
had done all that a man could do to save Dreyfus;
but was that any reason why he should catch cold and
lose his voice?
**In the name of the French people . . . ." The
hands of all the officers were at the salute, the rifles of
the soldiers at the present. The President was dull-
red above his white moustache, and his voice, hardly
audible, seemed to come through a channel too small
for it. The judges — they had been out deliberating for
an hour and a half — stood on either hand quite still.
The audience, standing, too, was dead silent. The
man in front of me^ — a man with a flat forehead and a
curious bald head, in the shape of a sugar-loaf — was
trembling so violently that he had to hold himself up
by the bench before him.
'The Council of War of the Tenth District, sitting
." — his voice is strangled: you cannot hear.
Presently comes something — "foreign Power — war
against France — delivering documents . . . borde-
reau.'' That was the charge : now it is coming. Shak-
ing hands make funnels of ears ; breath catches ; hearts
catch and stand still. The thin voice pauses and for
a moment is clear.
"By five votes to two — guilty . . ." — Ah! It
burst from every part of the hall at once, half gasp,
half sob — the sound with which men take wounds they
half expected. Not a single word did any man articu-
late. Only that one choking shiver — the voice of souls
that could find no words.
The whisper from the stage rustled on and on, but
nobody heard or heeded it. There was something
about "extenuating circumstances" and "ten years,"
but nobody seemed to know or care what it was. The
six stiff figures were still on either side of the whisper.
The hall, black with witnesses and press, blue and
white with gendarmes, still stood quite stark and mo-
tionless. They were neither glad nor angry, but only
dimly aware that it was over, and that yet somehow
it was still going on.
''Leave in the greatest calm. . . ." Yes, we discov-
ered that we were leaving, and God knows we were
calm. I looked round at my neighbours; I looked at
the detectives; I looked at the faces of the soldiers as
I passed; they were all calm, and even looked a little
frightened. I turned at the door to look up the hall:
DemangeandLabori were both in tears, which seemed
strange; but the Commissary and the Registrar were
still sitting moveless at their accustomed desks. Was
it over, after all? Only before the long table of the
judges, hiding it, stood shoulder to shoulder a close
rank of huge gendarmes. They hid the judges alto-
gether. Somehow that seemed quite orderly and nat-
Where were the predicted storms of passion — the
exultation of the conquerors, the curses of the de-
feated? If the case had not been too grim for laugh-
ing, it was comical. As we went into court that morn-
ing, and again when the court resumed in the after-
noon, detectives had passed their hands over every
man to make sure he carried no arms. Inside the court
the gendarmes stood along every wall, files of them
split up the seated spectators, squads of them blocked
up all the doorways. Half the audience who were not
journalists were police in plain clothes. Outside,
Rennes was a camp. And here were the fiercest parti-
sans on either side trooping out like sheep — not defy-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
ing opponents, hardly speaking to friends, not even
remembering to light cigarettes. All were stunned.
The very men who had anticipated the verdict for
weeks — had even named the figures and the judges
who were to vote either way^ — were silent and stupid,
as under the shock of something unforeseen and ap-
palling. All were dazed, scared, stunned.
We passed out along the familiar street, through
the barriers of infantry, past the long lines of mounted
gendarmes and the horsetail plumes of dragoons. It
seemed to be the latter part of the afternoon — of a fine
afternoon with rare gusts of dust-storm whirling under
the clear sun of September and a tender blue sky.
From the multitude of people — dotted over every
square, leaning in a mile-long fringe over the railings
of the quay, grouped at the door of every shop, choking
up the tables of every cafe — it seemed to be a Saturday
afternoon. We knew nothing. We had been in court
four hours in the morning hearing Demange say again
and again that it is not enough for justice to prove
that an accused person may be guilty; that before he
is condemned it should be proved he is guilty. After
that we had been out of court three hours wondering
— trying to believe that the court would say so too.
We had been in court again — two hours, the watch
said — trying to talk of something else while the judges
were away, starting up at the first bell that spoke of
their returning, standing still and gulping ten minutes
— was it, or ten years? — till they came in and we heard
'Tn the name of the French people!"
'Tn the name of the French people!" The first be-
ginning of natural life again was a dull, hot, unrea-
sonable rancour against the French people — against
calm Rennes — against the honest troopers at their
horses' bridles — the army — the judges^ — anybody. Rea-
son had whispered for weeks that you must allow for
prejudice, for prepossessions honestly and even cred-
itably come by and difficult to shake ofif, for the deli-
cacies of the judges' positions, for the suspicious mys-
teries of the case, for misconceptions of the attitude
of the accused. There was every reason why it should
be so — and it was so, and we were bitterly angry. The
band was playing in the cafe, I remember, as I passed
— the usual band that amuses us every evening; what
Rennes was calm. Men were tugging barges up
the river, and women were washing clothes — just as
they had done yesterday before this portent fell. They
were playing cards in the cafes and cheapening bon-
nets in the shops; I met a couple of priests and they
did not even look exultant. It was monstrous. This
monstrous wrong was done: a man whom most believe
innocent, whom none can prove guilty, was coolly,
deliberately, solemnly condemned, and condemned for
the second time. And Rennes was calm — my God!
Calm. Better that they had torn him to pieces with
While we were beginning to rage, they were reading
the sentence to Dreyfus. We remembered that in the
morning Labori had handed him a telegram and he
had smiled. When you see Dreyfus close his cheek is
faintly ruddy — had been, at least, these last three days
or so — and the moustache that is a black death's head
grin at a distance, is warmly brown; the smile we no-
ticed transmuted his haggard face to winning sweet-
ness. Later, as Demange pleaded, we had seen him
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
with his eyes glued to the faces across the table. Once
or twice we had seen him in tears — heard him sob.,
And just before the judges left — before he went out,
the gendarme ever behind him, to wrench his brain a
little tighter on the rack of suspense — he had spoken
his last word. It came up from his chest thick with
tears, choked with anxiety, flat and toneless, yet in-
tense, terrible, almost bestial with jarring hope and
despair — the old cry — "Innocence ..." ''my sol-
dier's honour ..." "five years awful torture ..."
"convinced I shall reach port to-day. . . " "your loy-
alty and justice." Then he turned, and with a firm
step and a clamped, chalk-white face strode out, and
we saw him no more.
When the hall was emptied they formed up the
guard before the dais and brought him in. The judges
were gone. He faced eftward towards the Commis-
sary of the Government and the Registrar. The last
read out the sentence. "In the name of the French
people . . . guilty . . . ten years' imprisonment . . „
military degradation." The Commissary told him he
had twenty-four hours within which to appeal. He
heard them in stockish silence. He uttered not one
word. At the end he turned, and with the same firm
step, the same clamped and chalk-white face, marched
out, and the prison swallowed him up again. His chil-
dren, they tell me, think papa is travelling, but are be-
ginning to wonder why he is so long from home. "In
the name of the French people!"
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS.
In a way the most remarkable feature about the ver-
dict of Rennes was the proportion of the votes. When
it had been over a few hours, and numb brains had
relaxed to thought again, it struck somebody that on
the very first day the very first motion had been carried
by five to two. The next and the next and all of them
had been carried by five to two. Now Dreyfus was
condemned by five to two. The idea — the staggering
idea — dropped like a stone into the mind, and spread
in widening circles till it filled it with conviction.
Every one of the judges had made up his mind before
a single word of evidence had been heard. The twenty-
seven days, the hundred-and-something witnesses, the
baskets of documents, the seas of sweat and tears —
they were all utterly wasted. They might just as well
— and it is well, then much better — never have
The verdict was, naturally, received with a howl of
indignation, and to endeavour to extenuate the stupid
prejudice — that, at least, if not cowardly dishonesty —
of the five who voted against the evidence is not likely
to be popular with civilized readers. Yet it may be
said of them in extenuation — if it is any extenuation —
that they only did as almost any other five Frenchmen
would have done in their place. Frenchmen are hyp-
notized by the case of Dreyfus, as some people are
hypnotized by religion; in its presence they lose all
mental power and moral sense.
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
There is no reason, therefore, to suppose that the
majority of the Rennes court-martial were consciously
dishonest in their verdict. I take it they started with
the belief that Dreyfus was guilty, with the desire to
have him proved guilty, though not with the intention
of finding him guilty, and the trial turned out espe-
cially propitious for a conscience of this kind. What
ruined Dreyfus's case was the assumption made —
probably in good faith in 1894, and made again in
1899 — ^t the very beginning by all the generals, and,
we may infer, by five of the judges, that the notes of
the borderaeu were all highly important documents,
Picquart and Hartmann saw the importance of this
point and laboured to destroy it; but the prejudice of
five years was too strong. Granting that these notes
were of the first importance, it was easy to show that
the information was inaccessible to Esterhazy, and by
a process of exclusion among those who could get it
the traitor was almost necessarily Dreyfus.
The case against Esterhazy lost by the same as-
sumption exactly what the case against Dreyfus
gained. Indeed, the case against Esterhazy was hardly
pushed as it should have been. To tell the truth, there
was not too much evidence against him produced at
Rennes, and I, for one, should have hesitated to con-
demn him on it. The strongest part of it, excluding
the testimony of the Germans, was the handwriting
— and here Bertillon's specious pseudo-science was
a god-send to the man who wanted to juggle his
conscience into voting against Dreyfus. The con-
fessions had the vice of being inconsistent with
each other, and it was easy to argue that Esterhazy
was paid to make them; if you respond, as Esterhazy
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS
did, that he is living at present in poverty, there is an
answer ready enough; what sane corrupter but would
make it a condition of his bribe that it should not be
exposed by being prematurely enjoyed?
Esterhazy's guilt once ruled out — and I think it was
ruled out very early in the trial — Dreyfus's conviction
almost certainly followed. The five judges probably,
Jouaust almost obviously, reasoned thus: we will not
trouble to apply our consciences to his case; now,
Esterhazy being set aside, who can the traitor be but
Dreyfus? Therefore, unless it is proved materially
impossible for Dreyfus to have been the traitor, we
conclude that Dreyfus was the traitor. It was all the
easier to do this because Labori was the only man
who seemed to realize the vital importance of proving
Esterhazy guilty; Demange said in so many words
that he cared nothing at all about Esterhazy. The
end was that it was not proved materially impossible
for Dreyfus to be the traitor. De Fond-Lamothe all
but did it with his circular as to the manoeuvres — did
do it to any reasonable mind in the absence of any
evidence that Dreyfus asked to go — but the generals
produced a sort of answer which just saw them
through. They did, perhaps, just establish that it is
not materially impossible for Dreyfus to have betrayed
the notes of the bordereau. That was all they even pre-
tended to do — "il a pu," "he might have," came out of
their mouths ir answer to two questions out of three —
but it was all they needed to do.
The most extraordinary and indefensible step that
Colonel Jouaust in particular, and the majority of the
judges, took was the refusal to examine von Schwarz-
koppen, and the determination to ignore the official
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
statement in the German Reichsanzeiger that no Ger-
man agent had ever had direct or indirect relations
with Dreyfus. Of course, this is only another example
of the Dreyfus-hypnotism; it seems the judges did
after all sincerely believe in the analogy about the re-
ceiver and the thief. But the sincerest belief in the
world cannot excuse such wanton wickedness; rather,
it makes it worse. For it means that five French offi-
cers, officially presumed to be gentlemen, have been so
worked on by the Dreyfus case and the passions it has
engendered, that they have quite forgotten what a
gentleman's word of honour is. They do not believe
Schwarzkoppen nor Miinster — no, nor yet Wilhelm
II. — on their words of honour. The only inference is
that in a like case they would not expect to be be-
lieved on their own.
The finding of extenuating circumstances at first
sight was quite fatal to the judges' good faith: what
circumstances could extenuate the guilt of a French
officer who betrayed the most vital secrets of France?
But the truth appears to be that extenuating circum-
stances are brought in in France when a considerable
minority is for acquittal; and in this case one more
judge for Dreyfus would have meant a verdict amount-
ing to not proven. The two judges, therefore, who
voted for acquittal have the satisfaction of knowing
that even if the verdict stands, they have at least won
for Dreyfus remission of some part of his destined
torments. The names of those two courageous, hon-
ourable, and clear-minded men I do not know. In a
country like France, where to be known would only
do them harm, I should not attempt to find out; but
they probably will be known before this is published,
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS
and they are not the least of the heroes of the Dreyfus
I have said the best I can say for the Rennes judges,
because it is generally safer to say the best than the
worst; yet the best is very bad. For France I am not
sure but the hypothesis of their honest inability to
weigh evidence about Dreyfus is not more ominous
than dishonest and cowardly submission to the wishes
of generals. It means that France has forgotten what
justice is. Alfred Dreyfus has inflicted on her this
awful retribution for his wrongs. Nothing that has
been suffered by him — and this is the most tremendous
irony of the whole tragedy — has gone unavenged. For
four years a prisoner on a feverish island off the coast
of Guiana, Dreyfus has been shaping the destinies of
France. He has altered the laws, set up and thrown
down governments, made and unmade men, knit close
friendships, ripped asunder the dearest ties of blood.
At last, like a pursuing fury, he seems about to drive
the France that murdered him into frenzied self-de-
struction. And, to pile irony on irony, of Alfred
Dreyfus himself, the world, even France, would never
* All published accounts agree that Captain Beauvais — who
publicly shook hands with Demange after the announcement
of the verdict — was one; the other is variously given as Major
de Breon, Major Merle, and Captain Parfait. Of the first the
Figaro had a pretty story that he was seen in a church the
night before in long and urgent prayer ; therefore, for the
credit of the Church in France, you would be glad if it were
he. Major Merle shed tears during Demange's speech; on
the strength of that it was said that he had been undecided till
the last moment, was won by Demange, but was re-won by
his superiors in the jury-room, and gave in on condition of
the finding of extenuating circumstances.
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
have heard a word had he lived to be a hundred but
for mere chance. The jealousy of a fellow, the of-
fence of a moment, the accident of his creed — anything
— nothing — has turned him from an utterly obscure
captain of artillery into the most famous name in the
The whole affair, the whole importance and noto-
riety of Dreyfus, was accidental and artificial. Since
he has left the Devil's Island he has agitated France
far less than while he was there. Indeed, when, in
1895, M. Dupuy and General Mercier took the trouble
to pass a special law to relegate Dreyfus to the Devil's
Island, they did the worst day's work of their lives.
Had he been sent in the natural course to New Cale-
donia, it is possible that he might be there still, for-
gotten. "Possible," I say, "because he is a Jew, and
Jews do not readily forget or cast off their own people;
had he been a Gentile he had almost certainly been
forgotten in New Caledonia."
But the chance of combining ferocity with theatrical
display was too much for a French Ministry. The pub-
lic degradation of Dreyfus, with its blended accom-
paniments of imposing ceremonial and heartrending
torture, was, after all, not too severe for the crime of
which all Frenchmen then honestly believed him
guilty. But the added cruelty of making a special law
for him, sending him to a special place of banishment,
tormenting him with every special penalty or depriva-
tion that could make life a hell — that recoiled on its
authors. The stage-management was too good, the
situation was too dramatic, to be forgotten. Dreyfus
on his own island — the very name of Devil's Island
was a melodrama in itself — sitting in the sun within
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS
his palisade, in irons, asking his guards for news and
met always with dead silence, informed — as we now
know — that his wife had borne a child two years after
he last saw her: who could ever get the picture of such
a purgatory out of his head? Under the last blow a
Frenchman would have killed himself; but the Alsa-
tian Jew was made of stififer fibre. He lived on, and
his countrymen, with the spectacle of that awful agony
ever before their eyes, first exulted, then came to
doubt, insisted, disputed, reviled, Hed, forged, fought,
forgot friendship, kinship, party, religion, country —
everything except the silent man in irons under the sun
of DeviPs Island.
But when he was brought back — ^when he was once
more Alfred Dreyfus, captain of artillery, in the cell
of the military prison at Rennes, charged with having
communicated to a foreign Power documents con-
cerning the national defence, tried on that charge be-
fore a court-martial of his peers — then France was no
longer haunted by him. The avenging ghost was mo-
mentarily laid. Calm overspread the land. Many men
had openly declared that Dreyfus ran a chance of be-
ing shot between his point of debarkation and the
prison of Rennes; he was not even hissed. There has
not been a single demonstration outside his prison
worthy of ten lines in a newspaper. And — lest you
should put down that fact to the congenital torpor of
Rennes — in the excitable south, in the great military
centres, in the manufacturing centres, in volcanic Paris
itself, Dreyfus has not been the occasion of a single
disturbance of any significance since he was landed in
Language remained violent enough and vile enough,
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
it is true; such a furious habit of blackguarding op-
ponents as has grown up with the Dreyfus case in
France could hardly be stilled in a day. But every-
body felt more at ease. From the half-indifferent,
wholly perplexed mass of the people, when Dreyfus
returned, went up a great ''Ouf!" of reUef. Now at
last, said they, we shall have the truth, we shall have
finality in this wretched affair, thereafter we shall
have peace. And the other day, when it was over and
he was condemned again, the ''Ouf!" went up out of
even fuller lungs. The verdict delighted them. There
was to be no more haunting Devil's Island, and at the
same time the honour of the army was saved. The
vast majority of the people of France rejoiced as after
a great victory; and they looked forward more than
ever with confidence to peace and harmony in France
^t' Jt^ ^t^ «(' «i^ ^1^ *ig
It might re-enforce that hope to consider how
wholly irrelevant to all great material issues the Drey-
fus case has been. At the first glance it seems that
France has chosen to lose her head over a matter
which she might just as well have let alone, which
is over now, and has left her where she was before.
Whether Dreyfus or Esterhazy betrayed documents,
or both, or neither, it is certain that no other French
ofHcer will be tempted to do the same for years enough
to come. Even if wrong has been done — if the inno-
cent has been punished and the guilty has gone free,
after all, it is only one man. And it is expedient that
one man should suffer for the whole people.
So argued, and would argue again, more than half
of France. And just because they argue thus, they
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS
are utterly and fatally wrong. It may be expedient
to sacrifice one man for a country — ^when the detec-
tion of sacrifice and of expediency is left to others.
But when the country argues thus itself, when it sacri-
fices the innocent one with its eyes open, then the
sacrifice is not expedient, but ruinous. It is this truth
that Picquart saw and proclaimed three years ago.
When Dreyfus was first condemned, it is probable that
everybody concerned, even Du Paty de Clam, who ex-
amined him, and Mercier, who procured his convic-
tion, honestly believed him guilty. But from the mo-
ment the people suspected his innocence and still let
him suffer — from that moment began the convulsion,
the dissensions, the moral putrefaction, and all the rest
of the discovered distempers of France.
It was known in widening circles, first to a few sol-
diers, then to journalists and politicians, then to every-
body who cared to be convinced to-day — to everybody
with ears to hear that Dreyfus, if not innocent, had
not yet been proved guilty. In the face of that knowl-
edge France still howls, "Let him suffer!" It is at
once the grimmest and grotesquest spectacle in his-
tory — a whole nation, knowing that justice has not
been done, keenly excited about the question, and
yet not caring a sou whether justice is done or not.
What matter, cries France, whether he is justly con-
demned or not? Shoot him rather than discredit the
army. And even of the minority — of the Dreyfusards
that exclaim against his mart3Tdom and prepare to
show that the verdict of Rennes has brought not peace
but a sword — who shall say how few care for doing
justice to a man who is innocent, and how many give
tongue merely because they hate the army, or the
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Roman Church, or Christianity, or France herself?
All but the whole nation — the nation which professes
itself the most civilized in the world — publicly pro-
claims that it cares nothing for the first essential of
civic morality. Partly it is the petulance of a splendid
child which will not see the patent truth, partly the
illogical logic of French intelligence which will com-
mit any insanity that is recommended in the form of
a syllogism, partly the sheer indifference of a brute
that knows neither right nor wrong.
But why try to analyse a phenomenon so despicable?
One thing is certain, common justice is the first and
most indispensable condition of a free country's ex-
istence. It is absurd to think that any cause which
has led to so deliberate a jettison of justice from the
national cargo can be irrelevant — can be anything but
most portentous and most disastrous to the nation.
From henceforth every reflecting Frenchman
knows that he may be accused of any crime, con-
demned on evidence he has never heard of, banished,
tormented in body and mind, and that hardly a soul
among his countrymen will care whether he is getting
justice or injustice. They happened to take sides about
Dreyfus ; he may have no such luck. Dreyfus, for the
rights of whose case friends and foes cared nothing,
happened to be a convenient stick for anti-Semites
and anti-militarists to thump the other side with; he
may not. Reasoning thus, will the reflective French-
man cultivate independence of thought, civic courage,
political honesty? Not he. He will make it his busi-
ness in life to cultivate a safe obscurity, and shout, if
shout he must, always with the largest crowd.
The results of such a lesson upon the public life of
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS
a nation are not easy to detect at once and in glaring
cases; but you may be very sure they are there, and
in the long run they will show themselves. The French
citizen was fearful of unpopularity before; he will not
be bolder now. The punishment of those who have
suffered in Dreyfus's cause will not be lost on him.
The timidity of a Casimir-Perier, of the President of
the Republic who suspected the truth and dared not
discover it, will be emulated by lesser men. Cowardice
will become a principle of public life.
In one respect alone can France claim pity — that she
became bankrupt in justice through honouring too
large a draft of her dariing child, the army. The army
is the adored of France. A few of the younger men,
still smarting from the petty brutalities of sergeants
who delight to bully boys of a better class than their
own, hate it bitterly; but to France as a whole her
army is her dearest treasure. In a conscriptive coun-
try the sight of troops in the street is as familiar as
that of policemen in London. In Germany or Austria
a regiment will march past with drum and colours
and hardly a head turns to follow it. But in France
the daily passage of the regiment empties every shop,
and leaves the whole street tingling with pride and
enthusiasm and love. It does not diminish this affec-
tion that the last time the army took the field it was
beaten and crumpled up, shot down by battalions and
carried into captivity by brigades. Quite the reverse.
France feels a sort of yearning to comfort her army
as a mother might comfort an unsuccessful son. And
the hope of revenge for that humiliation, on which
she has lived for near a generation, rests in the army
alone. The army — as they have said so often — the
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
army is France. Everybody has served in it; every-
body depends on it. The army is France.
Only that unlucky gift of bad logic led France
astray again. The army being France, they argue,
the honour of the army is the honour of France.
Thence they push on to the facile fallacy. The honour
of the heads of the army is the honour of the army,
and therefore of France. Honour, in that sense, ap-
parently means reputation for honour, which comes,
when you work it out, to the dictum that a general
can do no wrong — or at least if he does, nobody may
When Esterhazy refused at the Zola trial to answer
questions relative to his connection with the German
military attache, the judge, M. Delegorgue, protected
him. 'There is something/' said he, '^more important
than a court of justice — the honour and security of
the country." "I gather," tartly replied Zola's counsel,
"that the honour of the country allows an officer to
do such things, but does not allow them to be spoken
Precisely. It came, of course, in practice to the
divine right of generals. If a general's act was ques-
tioned, he responded that the interests of the national
defence demanded it, and said no more. France for
the most part is quite satisfied. She has invented a
new kind of Government — Csesarism without a C'^sar.
No general is able or resolute enough to impose his
authority on his fellows. Had any recent Minister of
War desired to make himself dictator or bring in a
Pretender, such was the all-accepting meekness of the
country that he could have done it. None dared, and
none of the Pretenders thought the sceptre worth pick-
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS
ing up out of the gutter. The result was that nobody
knew or knows who is ruHng France at any given
moment, or, indeed, knows anything at all — except
that, whoever is ruling, it certainly is not the President
nor the Ministry of the Republic. Summarily the Re-
public, during the three years of the Dreyfus agitation,
There is nothing surprising in that; the corruption
and cowardice of Ministers, Senators, and Deputies
had been amply demonstrated bv the scandal of Pan-
ama. The Dreyfus affair only overthrew what was al-
But the effects of government by generals are new
and dismal. It was bad enough that they should arro-
gate power to override everv authority in the State;
yet to usurp is a generous crime, and to permit the
usurpation of the army was in France a generous
weakness. The dismal portent is the utter incapacity
which the generals display. The Dreyfus case was
their own game, and they had all the cards; but for
the Hfe of them they could not play a single one cor-
rectly. Wherever it was possible to bungle or vacillate,
they bungled and vacillated.
They first admitted in the press that Dreyfus was
condemned on secret documents — that is, illegally —
and then denied it in the Chamber. They first con-
tended that Dreyfus wrote the incriminating bordereau
because it was like his natural handwriting, then that
he forged it, because it was more like Esterhaz/s.
They tried to entrap Picquart by bogus cryptograms
that would have been childish in a comic opera. They
filled the air with asseverations of their loyalty to the
Republic while they were openly violating its funda-
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
mental principles. They declared that for the para-
mount honour of the country they would prefer a revo-
lution to the revision of the Dreyfus case; then, when
it came to the point, submitted in tame silence to the
Cour de Cassation and General de Galliffet's orders.
They fought the Rennes case with determination and
skill; but once more acknowledged their inferiority to
De Galliffet by leaving the court — at his command,
not the law's — when the speeches began. Worst of
all has been their behaviour, where at least you might
have expected dignity and spirit, in regard to foreign
Powers. They withdrew from Fashoda and re-
nounced Egypt for ever rather than fight Great Britain,
although Marchand's appearance on the Nile was the
hoped-for climax of the deliberate policy of years.
One day they inspired impertinent fables about the
Kaiser's communications with Drevfus; the next they
sheepishly denied them on the threats of his ambas-
sador. Now thev have insulted Germany again; but
everybody knows they will apologize if she bids them.
The great international result of three years of gov-
ernment by generals is that France has virtually showed
herself unfit for war by sea or land — afraid of Eng-
land, terrified by Germany, the vassal of Russia — all
but a second-rate Power.
''What is to become of your army in the day of
danger?" cried General de Pellieux at the trial of Zola.
"What would you have your unhappy soldiers do, led
under fire by officers whom others have striven to
discredit in their eyes? . . . It is to a mere butch-
ery they are leading your sons." It is — or would be,
if France were mad enough to fight. There would be
as ruinous a collapse as in 1870. Only that would not
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS
be the work of "others," but of the leaders of the army
itself. They are indeed discredited — by their own folly.
Few people yet believe in their honesty, and now none
in their capacity. Every man in France who knows
anything of the last three years' history, in his heart
distrusts his beloved army utterly. That is the sum of
what the generals, with everything in their favour,
have been able to do for France, for the army, and for
The degradation of politics and of the army . has
been equalled by that of the press. France has never
had a journal — unless we except the Temps and the
present incarnation of the Matin — which an Anglo-
Saxon public would call a newspaper; but then she
does not want one. She has had journals which sup-
ply what she wants — well-considered and elegantly
written essays on the subjects of the day. Such she
still finds in organs like the Figaro and the Journal des
Dehats; but in the lower ranks of the press the fatal
influence of the Dreyfus case has told vilely. Ameri-
can papers appear to an Englishman free-spoken in
their attacks on opponents, but the cheapest rag in
New York would blush for the recklessness, gullibility
and foulness of the baser French press. Restraints
of good taste and decency are quite obsolete. You
call your political opponent "a prodigy of corruption
both in public and in private life, with thirty years of
lies, debauchery, bribery, defamation and calumny be-
hind him." The Prime Minister, if you dislike his
policy, you describe as "only half cleansed of the mur-
der of Carnot, the butcher of Madagascar, Hanotaux's
accomplice in the extermination of the Armenians."
You never speak of General de Gallififet by name, but
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
as '^the assassin of May"; they will know whom you
mean. M. Cavaignac being personally irreproachable,
it is well to hark back to his ancestors, and call him
the heir of two generations of murderers. Never say
your opponent published his opinions, say that he
vomited them. You can hardly go wrong in describ-
ing anything you dislike as ordure.
With foul language go intimidation, obtuseness,
spiritlessness. During the trial of Zola many news-
papers headed their issues for days with the names and
addresses of the jurors, accompanied by suitable in-
stigations to violence. During the Rennes Court-
Martial on Dreyfus an ingenious little paper in Rennes
ran a serial, giving the story of an Alsatian spy in
1870, named Deutschfus, who seduced an honest girl,
and then, returning as an Uhlan, shot her and kid-
napped her child. The credulity of such newspapers
equals their violence, and they readily gulp down the
wildest stories and clumsiest forgeries. And when
an occasion comes, like the Fashoda crisis, in which
a strong lead might fitly have been given to the na-
tion, nothing was forthcoming except alternate bluster
and puling. With one breath they thundered out what
things they would do if they could ; with the next they
wailed for compassion because they could not do them.
They inquired into the possible cause of the national
decadence quite openly, and wound up with "Poor
Poor France indeed! Her Government paralytic,
her army cankered, her press putrid — what remains to
her? The Church? The Church remains, but the in-
fluence of the Catholic leaders and the Catholic clergy
in the cause of anti-Semitism has discredited her
FRANCE AFTER DREYFUS
among all fair-minded men. The law? The law has
been broken and mended to order for the advantage
or the disadvantage of individuals; and while the Cour
de Cassation has done its duty most honourably under
difficult circumstances, lesser magistrates have been
found to surrender the law to partisanship or to fear.
M. Quesnay de Beaurepaire was one of the highest
judges in France, and his silly spitefulness has made
him the laughing-stock of the world.
Then what remains? Why, Rennes! The storm
of party bitterness, folly, weakness, knavery has swept
over from Paris into its own Lycee ; yet Rennes basks
unmoved under its sun. Walk down the drowsy
streets. Look at the Breton people — the shopkeepers,
the blue blouses, the little lace caps over women's faces
bronzed with field-work. There are yet people in
France who are courteous and kindly, simple and
frugal and brave, who earn their living, and love their
kin, and do what the priest tells them, and are ready
to die for France. There are millions more of them
all over the provinces. Paris looks down upon them,
and the whole world outside hardly knows of them,
but they are the strength of France. It is theirs to
work while Paris talks, to earn what Paris squanders,
to heal when Paris wounds.
The Dreyfus case is the deepest cut which Paris has
scored on the nation's body since 1870; perhaps since
1789. But it has not reached the vitals, and the prov-
inces may heal it as they have done again and again
before. The recuperative power of France has ever
amazed the world, merely because the world has
thought that France spelled only Paris. The provinces
do nothing else but recuperate.
THE TRAGEDY OF DREYFUS
Only that process, especially with a dwindling popu-
lation, cannot go on forever. There will come in the
end a day — and sooner, perhaps, than we think — when
Paris will have sucked the nation dry, and the prov-
inces will have no more to give. A nation cannot
go on when the bottom is rotten, but neither can it live
without a top. And there will soon be no top; Paris
rots it as soon as it begins to flower. Presently there
will be nothing left but Paris and peasants. France
will still be France, but no longer a great Power, hav-
ing nobody left to lead her.
And in some ways the demand Vv^hich these three
years of factious frenzy have made on France is more
exhausting than any of those from which she has re-
covered. In 1815 and 1871 it was comparatively easy
for a united people to revive after foreign war. After
the revolution, when the whole fabric of society was
swept away, there was a great faith wherewith to build
up everything anew; and after that the miracle of
Napoleon. In 1899, after the Dreyfus case, the great
institutions of France still stand ; but everybody knows
them to be undermined. There is no faith; and be-
cause there is no faith there will be no miracle.
To help the reader to a thorough appreciation and
understanding of the trial at Rennes, there have been
selected among the mass of reports, depositions and
incidents which make of the Afifaire Dreyfus the most
confusing and complicated case on record, a few sig-
nificant facts round which all the others can be
grouped, and which are the vital and suggestive facts
at the bottom of the case. They are presented with
the explanator}^ and critical remarks of the Judges of
the Court of Cassation, as recorded in the official re-
Of the many people who have investigated the case,
none had such admirable qualifications as the mem-
bers of the highest tribunal of justice of France, who
brought to this arduous work not only their superior
professional equipment, but also an attitude absolutely
unbiased and unprejudiced. As supreme guardians
of justice, as patriotic Frenchmen, they never for a
moment entertained the barbarous notion that the
honour of the French army made the punishment of
an innocent man a necessity.
SYNOPSIS OF THE DREYFUS CASE.
End of Sept — The bordereau is brought to the Bureau of
Information (the Intelligence Department of the French
War Office which deals with all matters pertaining to
Oct. 13. — Bertillon designates Dreyfus as author of bordereau.
(Another expert, Godert, had refused to identify the two
Oct. 15. — Du Paty de Clam's examination of Dreyfus, and ar-
rest of the latter at close of the famous dictation scene.
Dreyfus conducted by Henry to the Cherche-Midi prison,
and given in charge of Forzinetti, governor of the prison.
Nov. — Investigation by the Bureau of Information into the life,
etc., of Dreyfus.
Dec. 3. — Act of accusation drawn up by O'Ormescheville.
Dec. 19. — Dreyfus trial begins before the First Court-Martial
of Paris. As soon as the witnesses had been called over,
the Commissary of the Government demanded that the
case be heard in camera. Maitre Demange, counsel for the
accused, opposed, and asked to be allowed to argue the
point, "seeing that the unique piece of evidence " He
could not even finish his sentence; the President inter-
rupted him, and the Commissary of the Government said
to him that there were other interests at stake than those
merely of the accusation and defence. The case was there-
fore heard in camera.
Dec. 22. — Dreyfus is unanimously condemned to deportation
and perpetual imprisonment in a fortified place.
Jan. 4. — Public degradation of Dreyfus in the courtyard of the
Feb. 9. — The Chamber of Deputies passes a special law de-
porting Dreyfus to French Guiana, and he is conducted to
La Rochelle, the He de Re, and thence to the He du Diable.
May. — Picquart, appointed Chief of the Intelligence Bureau,
discovers the petit bleu, a communication written by
Schwarzkoppen, the German Military Attache, and ad-
dressed to Esterhazy. Later, after serious investigations,
Picquart decides on the guilt of Esterhazy, and the conse-
quent innocence of Dreyfus.
July. — Picquart reports his discoveries to Gen. de Boisdeffre.
Sept. — Picquart reports his discoveries to Gen. Gonse, and di-
vulges the use of a secret document at the trial.
Sept. 14. — The Eclair publishes the secret document "Ce
canaille de D .''■' (printing it Dreyfus instead of D .)
Oct. — Publication of Bernard Lazare's first brochure, "The
Truth about the Dreyfus Affair."
Nov. 10. — Publication in the Matin of a facsimile of the bor-
Nov. 16. — Picquart sent away from Paris on a mission to
Tunis, and succeeded by Henry.
Nov. 18. — Castelin's interpellation in the Chamber of Deputies
on the publication of the secret documents in the news-
End of Nov. — De Gastro, a banker, recognizes Esterhazy's
handwriting in the facsimile of the bordereau published
by the Matin, and informs the Dreyfus family of the fact.
Jan. — Picquart reaches Tunis.
June. — Beginning of the open warfare against Picquart by
Henry. The former consults his friend Leblois, a lawyer.
Leblois secures the support of Scheurer-Kestner, Vice-
President of the Senate, who having for four months past
investigated the affair at the request of Bernard Lazare,
had become convinced of the innocence of Dreyfus.
July. — Scheurer-Kestner declares publicly that he is convinced
of the innocence of Dreyfus.
Sept. 28. — M. Martini, Comptroller of the Army and friend of
General Billot, War Minister, asks of Dreyfus's father-in-
law, M. Hadamard, what elements he has gathered to
prove the innocence of Dreyfus.
Oct. 16. — Last known interview between Esterhazy and
Oct. 24. — Esterhazy writes a threatening letter to M. Hada-
Oct. 30. — Interview between Scheurer-Kestner and Billot, the
Minister of War.
Nov. 10. — Picquart, in Tunis, receives false telegrams signed
"Blanche" and "Esperanza."
Nov. 15. — Esterhazy is denounced by Mathieu Dreyfus as the
author of the bordereau, and Esterhazy demands an in-
Nov. 14. — The ''Veiled Lady" presents Esterhazy with a doc-
ument from the secret dossier of the Dreyfus trial.
Nov. 18. — Forzinetti is cashiered for declaring to Rochefort
that Dreyfus is innocent.
Commandant Pauffin Saint-Morel punished with thirty days
consigne for having brought to Rochefort the "flag of the
Nov. 22. — Picquart's rooms are searched in his absence by
Henry on Gen. de Pellieux's order.
The friends of Dreyfus force the Minister of War to recall
Picquart from Tunis, that he may be heard at the pro-
ceedings opened against Esterhazy.
Nov. 27. — Picquart appears before Gen. de Pellieux, who is
making a preliminary investigation against Esterhazy.
Nov. 28. — The Figaro publishes Esterhazy's letters to Mme. de
Boulancy, the famous Uhlan letter among them.
Dec. 4. — Interpellation in the Chamber of Deputies on the
Dreyfus case. Gen. Billot declares Dreyfus was "justly
and legally condemned."
Dec. 7. — The bordereau is included in the Esterhazy dossier to
be examined by the Court-Martial.
Dec. 15 and 20. — The false documents of Lemercier-Picard are
offered to M. Reinach, who refuses them, and are sold to
Rochefort, who published them as coming from the "de-
partment of the Syndicate of treason devoted to making up
Jan. 3. — Esterhazy brought before the Court-Martial.
Jan. 8. — Colonel Picquart testifies to the two false documents
signed "Speranza" and "Blanche," addressed to him while
he was in Tunis.
Jan. 10. — The Esterhazy Court-Martial shows its animosity
against Colonel Picquart.
Esterhazy is exonerated by the Ravary report.
General de Luxer, presiding officer, accepts as perfectly good
all the explanations of the accused.
Jan. II. — Acquittal of Esterhazy, who leaves the prison on the
arm of Mdlle. Pays, saluted by cries of "Long live the
Army ! Down with the Jews !"
Jan. 13. — Letter from Emile Zola to the President of the Re-
publique, published by the Aurore under the title of
Colonel Picquart is arrested and then sent to the fortress
of Mount Valerian.
Jan. 17. — Letters protesting against the illegality of the Drey-
fus judgment are published in great numbers.
Jan. 18. — The Minister of War brings suit against Zola and
Jan. 20. — Zola and Perreux, manager of the Aurore, are sum-
moned. Fifteen lines only in an article of eight columns
are mentioned in the summons.
Jan. 22. — Interpellation by M. Cavaignac in the Chamber of
Deputies. M. Meline, the Prime Minister, says: "We
have thought best not to bring before a jury the honor of
the chiefs of the army."
Jan. — Declaration of M. de Bulow in the Reichstag: "Between
ex-Captain Dreyfus and no matter which German
Agents, there have never existed any relations of any
In the Chamber of Deputies M. Jaures puts this ques-
tion to M. Meline : "Yes or no ; was there a document
communicated to the Court-Martial without the knowledge
of the accused?" M. Meline refuses to reply.
Feb. 7. — Zola is brought before the Cour d' Assises. The
officers are absent. Gen. Billot, in whose name the com-
plaint was made, is not there.
Feb. 9. — Judgment of the Court, commanding the military wit-
nesses to come to trial.
Feb. 10. — M. Delegorgue, President of the Court, declares :
"There is no such thing as a Dreyfus affair." He refuses
to put the questions of the defence to the witnesses. How-
ever, Gen. Mercier does not dare to deny that a secret
document was shown to the judges of Dreyfus.
Feb. 12. — Deposition of Col. Picquart.
Deposition of M. Jaures, who affirms that a secret document
was shown to the judges of Dreyfus. M. Demange de-
clares that so far as the trial was concerned, he knew of
nothing but the bordereau, but a colleague told him that
he had heard from a judge of the Court-Martial that a
secret document had been shown to the judges of Dreyfu?
in the judges' room.
M. Bertillon is heard, and his system considered.
Feb. 14. — Three French experts, Paul Meyer, director, Augusts
Milinier, and Emile Molinier, professors at the Ecole des
Chartres, declare that the bordereau is the work of Ester-
hazy. The fourth expert, Louis Havet, professor at the
Sorbonne, comes to the same conclusion.
Feb. 17. — General de Pellieux speaks of the secret document
(the forged Henry document).
Feb. 18. — Colonel Picquart declares that that secret document
is a forgery. Examination of Esterhazy. He is silent be-
fore the accusations brought by Maitre Albert Clemenceau,
one of the counsel for the defence.
Feb. 20, 22, 23. — Maitre Labori pleads for Zola, Maitre Clem-
enceau pleads for the Aurore.
Feb. 23. — Condemnation of Zola (one year in prison and 3000
Feb. 25. — MM. Grimaux, Leblois, Picquart and Chapelin are
disciplined for having expressed doubts of the guilt of
End of Feb. — The greater part of the European Press sides
March 5. — Death of Lemercier-Picard, spy and forger. His
identity is concealed for three days by the police.
March 30. — Appeal of Zola and of the Aurore.
April I. — Gen. Billot declares to M. Mazeau, President of the
Court of Cassation, that he will not be responsible for
troubles in the street if the Zola verdict is revised.
April 2. — The Zola verdict is annulled.
The Court-Martial not having brought a complaint against
Zola and the Aurore, M. Meline, interpellated by M.
Habert, promises to prosecute again and at once.
April 7. — Letter to the Siecle, signed "Diplomate," accuses Es-
terhazy of having been in the employ of Col. Schwarz-
koppen. Esterhazy does not prosecute the Siecle.
April 8. — The Court-Martial brings complaint against Zola and
the Aurore. In the Siecle is published the deposition of
M. Casella, declaring that Esterhazy is the author of the
bordereau, and quoting MM. Panizzardi and Schwarzkop-
pen as his authorities.
April II. — Zola and Aurore are re-summoned. It is now a
question of but three lines in the same article of eight
April 12 and 15. — Esterhazy does not prosecute either the
Siecle or the newspapers which reprinted the accusation
of M. Casella.
May 15. — It is said that the General Staff possess a photograph
of Col. Picquart in conversation with Col. Schwarzkoppen.
The Jour affirms the existence of this photograph, but be-
ing summoned to produce it, the photograph is not to be
May 23. — Zola prosecuted at Versailles.
The theory of the incompetency of the Court is rejected.
May 23. — Bands of loafers follow and hoot Zola and Picquart.
Esterhazy surrounded with officers and journalists, who are
grasping his hands, declares that he is come for the pur-
pose of killing Picquart.
The letters to Madame de Boulancy, after legal investiga-
tion, are declared to be authentic.
June 14. — Downfall of the Meline Ministry.
June 16. — Rejection of Zola's appeal.
June 18 and 22. — ^Ministerial crisis caused by the Dreyfus af-
June 24. — Mr. Conybeare, Professor at the University of Ox-
ford, writes M. Reinach : "Colonel de Schwarzkoppen will
not deny that he paid 2000 francs monthly to his habitual
Esterhazy does not prosecute the newspapers which print the
accusation of Professor Conybeare.
June 27. — M. Charles Dupuy, Prime Minister, declares that the
report of M. Lebrun-Renault dates from 1897 and not
from 1894, the time when it should have been made.
June 28. — M. Brisson accepts M. Caviagnac as Minister of
War, imposed by the Libre Parole and the Intransigeant,
the anti-Dreyfusist newspapers.
M. Caviagnac is selected by these journals because of his
attitude in the Dreyfus affair.
July 5. — The Aurore publishes a letter from Esterhazy contain-
ing the expression of the bordereau, "I am about to leave
for the manoeuvres." This letter proves : First, that, con-
trary to what he says, Esterhazy went to the manoeuvres
in 1894; and second, that the wording of this phrase was
usual with the Major.
July 8. — Speech of M. Cavaignac at the Chamber. He reads
the forged Henry document, and bases his conviction of
Dreyfus's guilt largely upon it.
July 9. — Letter from Colonel Picquart to M. Brisson offering
to prove to him that the document read by Cavaignac at
the Chamber is a forged document.
July 13. — Colonel Picquart is arrested and prosecuted for the
facts brought forward against him in February.
Arrest of Esterhazy and IMdlle. Pays, accused of fabricating
the false documents "Speranza" and "Blanche."
June 18. — New trial of Zola at Versailles.
Condemnation by default of Zola and Perreux, one year in
prison and 3000 francs fine.
Maitre Ployer, counsel for the prosecution, says that "Zola
in spite of a freedom of defence without parallel in judi-
cial annals, did not attempt even to demonstrate his inno-
June 19. — Departure of Zola from France.
June 23. — Complaint of Colonel Picquart against Colonel Du
Paty de Clam.
Zola is sticken from the rolls of th? Legion of Honour.
June 28. — The Chamber of Correctional Appeal condemns Zola
and Perreux, manager of the Aurore, to one month in
prison and 3000 francs fine for libel against the experts
Couard, Belhomme, and Varinard, whom he accuses in his
letter of lying or imbecility. Each of the experts obtains
5000 francs damages.
July 30. — M. Bertulus declares Colonel Du Paty de Clam, Es-
terhazy, and Mddle. Pays, authors and accomplices in the
matter of the false documents "Blanche" and "Speranza."
Aug. 6. — The Chambre d' Accusation saves Du Paty de Clam
by declaring ^1. Bertulus has no right to investigate in the
matter of the forged Du Paty de Clam and Esterhazy doc-
Aug. 13. — Esterhazy is set at liberty.
Aug. 26. — Colonel Picquart and M. Leblois are sent before the
Aug. 30. — Arrest of Colonel Henry, who acknowledges being
the forger of the document Cavaignac quoted in his speech
of July 8.
Aug. 31. — Resignation of General de Boisdeffre.
Suicide of Colonel Henry.
Sept. I. — The Cour de Cassation declares that the Chamber
d' Accusation has exonerated Colonel Du Paty de Clam by
refusing to apply the existing law.
Sept. 3. — Resignation of M. Cavaignac.
Sept. 5. — Letter from Madame Dreyfus to the Minister of Jus-
tice, demanding the revision of the judgment against
Sept. 6. — General Zurlinden assumes the portfolio of war.
Sept. 13. — Colonel Du Paty de Clam is placed on the retired
list for his part in the affair Esterhazy.
Nov. 15. — Dreyfus is informed of the pending revision just
one year after his brother's denunciation of Esterhazy.
Nov. 17. — Revision is practically decided upon.
Nov. 20. — M. Paul Bernard, President, informs Maitre Labori
that the 8th Chamber will adjourn the Leblois-Picquart
trial, and will release Colonel Picquart provisionally.
Nov. 21. — The Leblois-Picquart trial is postponed until after
the Revision. The Military Governor of Paris removes
Colonel Picquart from the civil prison of La Saute and
places him secretly in the military prison of the Cherche-
Nov. 25. — General Chanoine, Minister of War, resigns.
■Nov. 26. — The Counsel of Ministers refers to the Cour de
Cassation the question of the legality of a revision of the
Nov. 28. — The Cour de Cassation begins the work of revision.
December. — The Criminal Chamber of the Cour de Cassation
orders the adjournment of the Picquart trial; examines
the secret dossier brought by Captain Cuignet on behalf
of the Minister of War, hears the depositions of MM.
Lebrun-Renault, Casimir Perier, etc.
January. — M. Quesnay de Beaurepaire, President of the Civil
Chamber of the Cour de Cassation, resigns, and is re-
placed by Conseiller Ballot-Beaupre.
Jan. 2y. — Prosecution of M. Joseph Reinach by Madame
Henry for defamation of her husband's memory.
February. — M. Renault-Aloliere, Recorder of the Commission
of Procedure in the matter of the revision in the Criminal
Chamber, gives a favourable report.
The Criminal Chamber, after having heard further evidence,
orders, through M. Loew, its President, the closing of the
preliminary inquest for a revision of the Dreyfus case.
The Senate discusses a law for taking the case out of the
hands of the Criminal Chamber.
March. — The Senate decides that all Chambers of the Cour de
Cassation are to unite and pronounce upon the demand
M. Ballot-Beaupre is designated as Recorder.
The full bench of Cour de Cassation takes up the investiga-
tion of the secret dossier.
April. — The Figaro publishes all the reports of the investiga-
tion of the Cour de Cassation, and being prosecuted is
condemned to 500 francs fine.
The court hear the depositions of Captain Chamoin and M.
Paleologue, and of MM. Lepine, Freystaetter, Bertillon.
Gonse, and Roget, as well as that of Du Paty de Clam.
Captain Freystaetter, one of the judges of the Court-
Martial oi 1894, declares that nothing but the bordereau
was communicated during the trial, proving that it was in
the jury room after the audience that the secret document
May. — M. Ballot-Beaupre makes his report.
June 3. — The revision of the Dreyfus case is voted by the
Cour de Cassation. The case is referred to the Rennes
June 6. — Captain Dreyfus leaves Guiana for France on the
June 12. — The Dupuy Cabinet resigns.
June 22. — New Cabinet formed with General de Galliffet as
Minister of War.
July I. — Captain Dreyfus arrives at Quiberon.
Aug. 7. — The Court-Martial on Captain Dreyfus begins at
Sept. 9. — Captain Dreyfus recondemned by a majority of five
to two, with extenuating circumstances.
THE ACT OF ACCUSATION, 1894.
Report of Commandant A. d'Ormescheville.
Commandant d'Ormescheville, Rapporteur of the First
Court Martial, having proceeded to Regular Instruc-
tion, made the following Report, which is the Act of
December 3, 1894.
Captain Dreyfus, of the 14th Artillery, stagiaire to the staff-
major of the army, is accused of having, in 1894, given in-
formation to several agents of foreign powers, with the object
of giving them the means of committing hostilities or under-
takmg a war against France, and of having delivered to them
secret documents on which was based the order given by M.
General Military Governor of Paris, Nov. 3, 1894.
Dreyfus is accused of having, in 1894, had dealings with
several agents of foreign powers, giving them information
which would enable them to commit hostilities or undertake
a war with France.
The basis of the accusation against Dreyfus is a letter,
not signed and not dated, which is in the dossier, proving that
these military confidential documents were delivered to an
agent of a foreign power.
General Gonse, sub-chief of the staff-major general of the
army, into whose hands the documents fell, gave them, after
their seizure, October 15th, to Paty de Clam, Chief of the
Batallion of Infantry hors cadre, ordered October 14th, 1894,
by the Minister of War, as officer of the police judiciary, to
institute proceedings against Captain Dreyfus.
From the seizure of this letter, General Gonse has declared
and affirmed to the officer of police commissioned to investi-
gate, that he had some documents addressed to a foreign
power, which had come into his possession, but that after the
formal order of the Minister of War he could not state by
what means the documents had come into his possession.
The exact details of the inquiry which took place in the
offices of the stafif-major of the army are found contained in
the report which Paty de Clam addressed to the Minister of
War, October 31 last, and which was a part of the dossier.
An examination of this report shows that it was done with-
out any haste and especially without any person having signed
it a priori, and it is on this the inquiry has been conducted.
This inquiry is divided into two parts, one preliminary in-
quiry in order to arrive at the discovery of the culprit, if pos-
sible, then the regulation inquiry by the officer of police.
The very nature of the documents addressed to the agent
of a foreign power at the same time with the criminal letter,
established the fact that it was an officer who was the author
of the letter and who had sent it and the documents; more-
over, that this officer belonged to the artillery, three of the
notes or documents sent concerning this branch of the army.
After a careful examination of all the handwriting of the of-
ficers employed in the offices of the staff-major, it was de-
cided that the writing of Dreyfus presented a remarkable sim-
ilarity to that of the criminal letter. The Minister of War,
upon the report which was made to him, ordered that the
writing of the letter should be studied and compared with the
writing of Dreyfus. M. Gobert, expert of the Bank of France
and of the Court of Appeal, was commissioned by General
Gonse to make the examination, and for this purpose re-
ceived him some documents, October 4th, 1894. Some days
after the receipt of these documents M. Gobert asked M.
Gonse, who went to see him, the name of the guilty person;
naturally the latter refused to give it to him.
A few days afterward M. Gobert was asked to submit his
conclusions and the documents which had been confided to
him, he having shown his desire for more time in the matter.
October 13th, in the morning. M. Gobert submitted his
conclusions in the form of a letter to the Minister. They
are worded as follows: —
"The criminal letter might be that of another person than
the one suspected."
Mr. Gobert's manner having displayed a certain defiance,
the Minister of War asked the Prefect of Police for the opin-
ion of M. Bertillon.
Some specimens of writing and a photograph of the crim-
inalTetter were then submitted to him, and he proceeded to
their examination while awaiting the return of the documents
confided to M. Gobert. After the return of these documents
by M. Gobert, they were sent to M. Bertillon, who, on the
evening of October 13th, drew up his conclusions, which are
worded as follows: — "If one goes on the hypothesis that the
document is forged, it appears manifest that it is the same
person who has written the letter and the documents in ques-
In compliance with the order of the Minister of War, dated
October 14th, 1894, Paty de Clam proceeded to the arrest of
Captain Dreyfus on October 15th.
Before the actual arrest, and in order that Dreyfus might
know the accusation against him, and prove his innocence if
possible, Paty de Clam submitted him to the following test: —
He made him write a letter in which were enumerated the
documents figuring in the criminal letter.
As soon as Dreyfus perceived the object of this letter, his
writing, which was up to that point regular, became irregular,
and he showed signs of uneasiness. Questioned about this,
he declared that his fingers were cold. Now the temperature
in the office of the Minister was medium; Dreyfus had been
there for a quarter of an hour, and the first four lines written
presented no signs of trembling.
After having arrested and interrogated Dreyfus, Paty de
Clam, the same day, Oct. 15, made a search in Dreyfus' s house.
This superior officer having heard no witness, the duty fell
upon us, and by reason of the necessary secrecy, the inquiry
in which we heard twenty-three witnesses was as laborious as
it was delicate.
It appears, from the testimony of witnesses, that during the
two years that Dreyfus spent as stagiaire to the General Staff,
he was seen in different offices, that his actions were suspi-
cious, that he was found alone at late hours in other offices
than his own and where there was no excuse for his presence.
In this way he was able to look up matters which might in-
terest him. He was also able, without being seen by anyone,
to go into offices other than his for the same motive. It was
remarked by the Chief of the section that during his stay in
the 4th bureau Dreyfus was specially interested in the study
of dossiers of mobilization, so that in leaving this bureau he
possessed all the mysteries of the concentration upon the net-
work of the East in time of war.
The examination, as well as the conclusions formed on the
subject of the criminal letter, belong more particularly to the
experts in writing. However, at first sight, and afterwards,
we must say that the writing of this document presents a
great similarity to the different documents found in the
dossier, notably in the slanting of the writing, the omission
of dates and the cutting of words in two at the end of lines,
which are the features of the letters written by Dreyfus (see
his letter to the Procureur of the Republic of Versailles and
the letters or cards to his fiancee which are in the dossier).
In regard to the signature the comparison fails because it
ought to fail. Colonel Fabre, chief of the 4th Bureau of the
staff-major of the army, in his deposition said that he had
been struck by the similarity of the writing of the criminal
documents and the writing of Dreyfus when he was in Bureau
Lieutenant-Colonel d'Aboville, sub-chief of the same bureau.
said in his deposition, that the resemblance of the writing of
the criminal documents to the writing of the documents of
comparison, was very striking.
As regards the experts who reported to us the first phase
of the inquiry, that is to say in the commencement of the
month of October last, we find first the hurried letter of M,
Gobert, which is very vague. The wording of the conclusion
of this expert shows that the anonymous letter that he exam-
ined could be or might not be from the person accused. It
is to be observed that M. Gobert received, among the docu-
ments for comparison written by the hands of Dreyfus, a
work entitled "Studies upon measures in times of war." This
document which contains a detailed expose of the resources
of the Bank of France, in case of war, attracted the attention
of M. Gobert, who is employed by the Bank of France, and
is to-day an expert on writing there.
Captain Dreyfus having had, in the course of his work, to
consult the principal officers of that bank, he was quite well-
known by a number of its employes. It was without doubt
this fact which led M. Gobert to tell us that he had surmised
the name of the person suspected, but that no one had any
knowledge of it. Be that as it may, M. Gobert, as we
have said, for some unknown reason had asked General
Gonse, sub-chief of the General Staff, the name of the guilty
person. What reason had he for doing so? Many hypoth-
eses can be advanced. We can say that such a demand, in
contradiction to the professional attitude of an expert in
handwriting, warrants the supposition that the account ren-
dered by M. Gobert to the Minister (which, not being certi-
fied under oath, was merely in the way of information) was
written under the influence of bias, contrary to the invariable
practice of professional experts in such matters.
In consequence, this account seems to us suspicious, to say
the least. Its dubiousness of tone has no value from the
standpoint of law. It does not contain any technical discus-
sion which would allow one to understand on what facts M.
Gobert has based his judgment.
We will add that M. Gobert, when asked to add technical
explanation to his report, refused; that moreover, before tak-
ing the oath, he declared to us that if we should call him in
view of making a second expert investigation, a regular one
this time, in the Dreyfus affair, he would refuse to do so.
As we have said before, the task of examination given to
M. Gobert by the Minister of War, was also entrusted to M.
Bertillon, who formulated, October 13th, 1894, his conclusion
as follows: —
"If one puts aside the hypothesis of a forged document
with the greatest care, it appears manifest that it is one and
the same person who has written the letter and the documents
In his report of Oct. 23rd, given after a more thorough ex-
amination, bearing upon a larger number of documents, M.
Bertillon formulated the following conclusions, which are
much more affirmative. "The proof is peremptory. You
know what my conviction was in the first place; it is now ab-
solute — complete without any limitation."
The report of M. Charavay, expert in writing near the Tri-
bunal of the Seine, given under oath, contains, first of all, a
detailed technical discussion, and the conclusions which re-
sulted from it are given in the following words: — "Based on
the statements made in the present report, I, the undersigned
expert, conclude that the criminal document No. i is written
by the same hand as the test documents from 2 to 30."
The report of M. Teyssonieres, expert in handwriting near
the Civil Tribunal, given under oath, contains, like the pre-
ceding report, a detailed technical discussion of the docu-
ments. His conclusions are thus: "Based on the preceding,
I declare on my conscience that the writing of the criminal
piece No. i, is by the same hand which has written docu-
ments 2 to 30."
The report of M. Pelletier, expert, etc., given under oath,
and which bore upon the comparison of the handwriting of
the criminal documents with that of two persons, contains,
like the preceding reports, a technical discussion of the docu-
m.ents examined. His conclusions are as follows:
"Summing up the whole thing, I do not consider myself
warranted in attributing to either one or the other of the per-
sons suspected, the writing of the criminal documents."
It is worthy of note that the experts Charavay, Teysson-
nieres and Pelletier. after taking the oath, were put in rela-
tion with M. Bertillon. who told them that he was at their
disposal to furnish them with certain pelures. the photographs
of which were not as yet finished, and which were of great
importance by reason of the comparisons to be made of the
handwritings. Of the three experts above-named, only two
returned to see M. Bertillon and receive from him communi-
cation of these pelures; these two were Charavay and Teysso-
The third. M. Pelletier. did not go again, and did his work,
which bore upon the comparison of two handwritings instead
of one with the criminal letter, without the help of the docu-
ments that ^I. Bertillon proposed to give him, and which must
have had decidedly as much interest for him as for his col-
Dreyfus was subjected to a long interrogatory by M. du Paty
de Clam. His answers are full of contradictions, to say the
least. Among them some are particularly interesting to note
here, notably one at the time of his arrest. October 15th last,
when he was searched and said : "Take my keys ; oper every-
thing in my house, you will find nothing."
The search which was made at his house resulted very
nearly as he said; but one is justified in thinking that if any
letters, even of the family, except those written to Madame
Dreyfus — if even letters from shopkeepers had contained any-
thing compromising they would naturally have been destroyed.
The whole of the interrogatory put by M. du Paty de Clam is
full of persistent denials by Dreyfus, and also of protestations
against the crime of which he is accused. At the beginning of
that interrogatory Dreyfus said at first that he thought he
recognized in the criminal documents the handwriting of an
officer employed in the office of the General Staff of the Army ;
afterwards, before us, he retracted this allegation, which ought
to fall by its own weight, in the face of the complete dissim-
ilarity of the handwriting of the officer he had in mind with
that of the criminal document.
Another extraordinary answer made in the course of the
first interrogatory is that which related to the insecurity of the
official documents which, according to Dreyfus, were not in
perfect security at the second bureau of the General Staff of
the Army at the time when he was employed in it. This alle-
gation of insecurity has not been confirmed by any of the wit-
nesses heard on this subject; he must therefore have made it
with some object in view.
Lastly, there exists, in the first interrogatory, some absolutely
incoherent answers, such as these : "The experts are mistaken,
the incriminating document is the work of a forger; some one
has tried to imitate my handwriting. These documents might
have been written with the help of fragments of my handwrit-
ing put together with care to form a whole which would resem-
ble this letter. The ensemble of the letter does not resemble my
writing; it is not even an attempt to imitate it."
In the interrogatory of Dreyfus, his answers have always
been obtained with great difficulty, as one will observe from
the many words scratched and underlined in the official report
of the interrogatory. When Dreyfus ventured an affirmation,
he would hasten to weaken it by vague or mixed-up phrases
trying always, in spite of former remarks, to question or to
start the conversation without being asked to do so. That sys-
tem, if we had allowed it to be adopted, might have had some
unfortunate consequences for the form even of the interrog-
atory, on account of the extreme cleverness of Captain Dreyfus.
If one compares the answers that Captain Dreyfus has made
to us with the depositions of some of the witnesses heard, they
will draw from it the painful impression that he often veils the
truth, and that, whenever he finds himself hard pressed, he geti
out of the trouble without much difficulty, owing to his mental
Summing up the depositions of several witnesses, the facts
extracted are these: that Dreyfus had often drawn upon him-
self the suspicion of his comrades, that he had asked Captain
Boullenger questions about the secret and confidential affair in
his charge, which Boullenger refused to answer; also that
Captain Bosse had seen him, September 8th last, working in his
office on some unauthorized kind of paper instead of using the
same official papers as the document which he had to bring up
to date; also Captain Maistre said to him that he would give
him communication of the important work which he had in
charge, but in his office only. It appears that Dreyfus in-
dulged in indiscreet conversations, that he made investigations
of matters not in his own department ; that he had a habit of
ferreting ; that he seemed to be bent on procuring information,
either written or oral, before finishing his term of service as
stagiaire with the General Staff of the Army.
His attitude seemed to be one of cross-purposes, and had a
suspicious appearance, like that of one who practices spying.
His actions, taken in connection with the similarity of the
handwriting, are a serious factor against him when the ques-
tion of his arraignment was brought up.
Although Dreyfus declared to us that he never had gambling
propensities, it appears from the information we have been
able to gather on the subject that he frequented several Paris
clubs where there is much gambling. In the course of his in-
terrogatory he acknowledged that he had gone to the Press
Club, but only as a guest to dine, and that he had never played
there. The gambling clubs of Paris, such as the Washington
Club, the Betting Club, the Fencing Club, and the Press Club,
have no Club books, and their frequenters, being a shady class
of people, the testimony of any witnesses we might have called
from there would not have been trustworthy ; hence they were
In regard to his travels, Dreyfus stated that he could go to
Alsace in secret, almost whenever he wanted to, and that the
German authorities would shut their eyes to his presence. This
faculty of traveling clandestinely contrasts strongly with the
difficulties which our officers experienced at that time, and at
all times, in obtaining permission or passports from the Ger-
man authorities allowing them to return to Alsace. It may be
there was a reason for this which the limited time at our dis-
posal will not admit of our fathoming.
In regard to the hints of Dreyfus about the baiting which
the Minister of War practised, it appears to us that this accusa-
tion was trumped up by Dreyfus in order to defend himself for
having any connection with compromising documents, and per-
haps this loop-hole of escape in his mind made him less care-
ful about disguising his handwriting.
On the other hand, the slight alterations which he did make
might have had for an object the possible argument of forgery,
should the documents after having reached their destination
eventually fall into the hands of the Minister of War,
As to the proofs relating to the knowledge Captain Dreyfus
had of the notes or documents enumerated in the criminal doc-
uments and which have accompanied it, the first interrogatory,
as well as the one he has just been submitted to, convinces
me, in spite of his denials, that he was in easy position to fur-
nish them. On examining these documents, we find first of all
the note upon the hydraulic brake 120.
The allegations of Dreyfus on the subject of this brake, go
to show that it was easy for him to procure, either through the
artillery, or by conversations with certain officers of the Gen-
eral Staff, the elements necessary to fabricate the note in ques-
As to the note upon the troupes de couverture with the
restriction that some modifications might be brought in by the
new plan, to us it seems impossible that Dreyfus did not have
knowledge of the modifications bearing on the plan of cam-
paign in the month of April last, which, though confidential,
was not altogether secret, being freely discussed by officers of
the staff both among themselves and in the presence of
In that which concerns the note upon certain changes in the
artillery staff, an agitation for the suppression of the ponton-
niers, we cannot believe that Dreyfus was not interested in
such a transformation, and only knew of it when it became of-
ficial. About the note on Aiadagascar which presented the
greatest interest for one of the foreign Powers, if as everything
suggested, an expedition had been sent at the beginning of
1895, Captain Dreyfus would have easily been able to procure
the official note. In fact, last February Corporal Bernillon,
then Secretary to Colonel de Sancy, chief of the second Bureau
of the General Staff, made a copy of a work about twenty-two
pages on Madagascar in an antechamber adjoining the office of
this superior officer.
The making of that copy took about five days, and during
that time original and copy were left in a portfolio on the writ-
ing table of the corporal when he left his work. Besides, dur-
ing office hours this corporal was often absent for a while,
leaving his work in full view on the table (consequently easy
to read), for he never thought that any officer not belonging to
that office, or in fact any officer unknown to him would be in
This corporal declared to us in his deposition, but without
giving any precise date, that Captain Dreyfus, whom he knew,
had come four or five times into the room to see Colonel de
Sancy, while he was doing service at the German section. This
document could also have been read by Dreyfus when he was
put back to the English section, which was occupied just then
with Madagascar, because these documents had been placed
temporarily in an open pasteboard box in that section. In
what concerns the project of the Manuel de tir, of artillery on
March 14, 1894, Dreyfus acknowledged, in his first interroga-
tory, that he had spoken of it several times with the superior
officer of the 2nd Bureau of the General Staff.
In conclusion, the elements of the accusation against Dreyfus
are of two kinds, moral and material. I have examined the
first elements; the second element consists in the criminal
letter whose examination by the majority of experts, as well is
by us, and by the witnesses who have seen it, has proved, in
spite of voluntary dissimilarities, a complete similarity with
the writing of Dreyfus.
Besides the preceding, I can say that Dreyfus possesses a
very extended knowledge, a remarkable memory; that he
speaks several languages, notably German, which he knows
thoroughly, and Italian, which he pretends to know very little
about now; that he was a supple character, even obsequious,
which is very useful in the relation of a spy with foreign
agents. Captain Dreyfus was therefore well fitted for th?
shameful mission that he had mapped out for himself or ac-
cepted, but which, happily for France, was put an end to by the
discovery of the criminal letter.
In consequence, I am of opinion that Captain Dreyfus,
Stagiaire, etc., be arraigned for having, in 1894, at Paris, de-
livered to a foreign power a certain number of confidential doc-
uments relating to national defence, thus enabling them to un-
dertake a war with France.
Made at Paris, December 3, 1894. Reporter.
ANALYSIS OF THE ACT OF ACCUSATION
AND OF THE ALLEGED CONFESSION.
[Report of Conseiller bard, Court of Cassation, October 27th,
Besides the experts, the reporter, d'Ormescheville,
heard twenty military witnesses and — we note in pass-
ing, because this detail, contrary to judicial customs,
has its interest — that not one of these witnesses was
confronted with the accused, that not once was the ac-
cused in the presence of those who accused him and
permitted to make any explanations to them.
Moreover, the twenty military witnesses cited were
not all witnesses for the prosecution; several of them
testified only to entirely indifferent facts or upon the
character of the accused. As for those whom the
prosecution considered regular witnesses, they indi-
cated that Dreyfus liked to inform himself on military
matters which were outside of his duties, and that he
could get into the offices where he was not summoned ;
but not one of them brought out any fact that could
fix upon him the crime of high treason.
As to the motive which could have influenced the
accused to commit a crime so abominable, the report
gives no explanation. The accused had a comfortable
fortune; it is true that this is not a proof of incor-
ruptibility, but he led a life in keeping with his re-
sources. The reporter, therefore, looked for gambling,
women or deceived ambition as the cause; what he
found, supposing it to be fully established, constitutes
information of morality; the reporter was not able to
see anything else.
If Dreyfus complained of unjust prejudice against
him, he nevertheless graduated from the War School,
ninth out of forty-two, with the note ''Very good," his
brevet of Etat-Major, and his admission to the Gen-
As for the two women he knew in 1893 and 1894,
it is found that there were only some visits or inter-
views, to which Dreyfus himself put an end.
As for gambling, the report, without affirming that
Dreyfus lost, or even played, says that *'it appears
from information gathered'' that he frequented circles
where there was gambling.
This information is represented in two notes, that
cannot even be called police notes, for nothing indi-
cates their origin; they are not even signed by any
agent whatever, and they are not indorsed by any tes-
timony, which is perhaps improper, when it relates to
the honour of an officer, if he is accused of the great-
est of crimes. No accusation of gambling was brought
at the Rennes trial.
However that may be, the motive of this monstrous
crime remains mysterious, like the circumstances of
its perpetration; one thing alone accuses Dreyfus, and
that is the bordereau.
To declare that Dreyfus wrote the bordereau, M.
d'Ormescheville cites his personal criticism; but in
stating, with other persons, that there is a similarity
of handwriting between the incriminating letter and
the handwriting of Dreyfus, he adds that "the exam-
ination as well as the conclusions to be formed on this
subject belong more particularly to experts on hand-
writing," and at the end of his report he recalls that
'^the majority of the experts" have pronounced against
the accused. The opinion of the experts, • therefore,
gave decisive weight in the Dreyfus affair (as well in
the Esterhazy afifair). Now as the contradictory and
irreconcilable results of these experts constitute one
of the reasons for revision, it will be in order to make
them known together with sufficient details.
In this stage of the procedure, after the report of
Commandant d'Ormescheville, dated December 3rd,
Commandant Brisset, Commissary of the government,
makes a report tending to the appearance of the ac-
cused before the Council of War, December 4th, and
the same day. General Saussier, Governor of Paris,
signed the order that Captain Dreyfus should be tried
All the witnesses who were heard in the instruction,
as well as Commandant du Paty de Clam, were cited
before the court-martial, including the experts who
were engaged in the aflfair. A dozen witnesses, of
whom halt belonged to the army, were also sum-
moned at the request of the accused. The entire de-
bate took place with "huis clos" the most rigorous; it
continued four days, and December 28th the accused
was unanimously declared guilty and condemned to
transportation to a fortified enclosure.
Notwithstanding the protestations of the con-
demned, protestations which were unknown to the
public, the sentence against Dreyfus did not raise any
indignation and could not raise any observation, ex-
cept the regret that a crime like this should rank in
the category of political crimes with a penalty like
that of transportation which, applied according to
law, must guarantee political prisoners against the
excessive hardships of penitentiary regime established
for common law criminals. The attention of the pub-
lic authorities was even, and very justly, called to the
opportunity of revising from this point of view the
legal rulings governing spies.
No other incident occurred during the year 1895 and
the first months of 1896. But, before passing to the
Esterhazy affair, and to follow events in their chrono-
logical order, we must inform the Court, as far as is
in our power, on the allegation that after the degrada-
tion of Alfred Dreyfus, he made confessions to Cap-
Not that those who have experience in judicial mat-
ters can attach great importance to the incident which
In certain circumstances, words which would seem
an explicit and formal avowal do not for the judge
constitute an irrevocable proof. You had a recent ex-
ample in the Esterhazy affair, when the woman Pays
having acknowledged before the Judge that she was
the author of a telegram, this was found to be false,
and the Court decided that this declaration, revoked
later, must not be retained against the accused.
It is generally required that an avowal shall be pro-
duced before a judge or at least before a legal police
officer, that it shall be precise, and not the result of
equivocal expressions, that it shall agree with informa-
tion already obtained; all these circumstances are
found to be very incomplete in this instance.
Nevertheless, we are obliged to consider this ques-
tion, as a dossier has been communicated to us, which
contains two reports and the speech of the Minister
of War, Cavaignac, at the session of the Chamber of
Deputies, July 7th, 1898.
One of the reports is by Captain Tassin, of Sep-
tember 7th last. Contrary to the indication of the
dossier, there is no question of avowals made by Cap-
The second report must be read. We do not know
if it was considered convincing. We fear that it con-
firms doubts and thickens the obscurities that sur-
round this incident.
Report of Lieutenant-Colonel Guerin, Sous-Chief of the
Etat-Major of the Military Government of Paris, on
THE Degradation, January 5, 1895, and on the Declara-
tions MADE BY Captain Dreyfus to Captain Lebrun-Re-
naud, of the Republican Guard.
After having been placed, January 5, 1895, by the Military
Government of Paris, at the disposition of General Darras, to
assist at the military degradation of Captain Drejfus, J went
that day at quarter past five in the morning to the Military
School, cour Morland. Captain .... was ordered to verify
the cards of representatives of the French Press, reserve and
territorial officers, and to place them in the order which was
arranged for them.
The prison van, escorted by a squad of the Republican
Guard commanded by Captain Lebrun-Renaud, entered the
Military School at forty-five minutes past seven, and was
stopped at the cour Morland, before the office of the adjutant
of the garrison. Dreyfus stepped out and was conducted to
this office and remained there until the moment when all the
troops being in position, the captain of the garrison came,
about five minutes before nine o'clock, to conduct him at nine
o'clock to the place marked for the ceremony.
Meeting Captain Lebrun-Renaud at the entrance of the
office, he at once told me of his interview with Captain Drey-
fus. At the first words, as it did not seem to me advisable
that this should be limited to us two, and a group of officers
being near us, I begged Captain Lebrun-Renaud to relate to
them the confidences that Dreyfus had made to him, on ac-
count of their importance and interest.
This officer then told us that he had talked of Tahiti with
Dreyfus, the place where he would probably be sent. He
boasted that the climate would suit him very well and also his
wife and children. Captain Dreyfus, showing him the braid
on his dolman, told him that it was pride he had lost. He
added this declaration, 'Tf I delivered these documents, they
were without any value, and it was in order to procure more
I guarantee the strict exactitude of the words underlined
(they are all underlined), and the real meaning of these words,
which are too characteristic to be ever forgotten by me.
The first stroke of nine sounded; Dreyfus was degraded.
He protested his innocence, passed before the front rank of
troops, and stepped into the prison van which was waiting for
him. It left at once, and Dreyfus was placed under civil
I went without delay to the office of the adjutant of the
garrison when the parade was finished, and took part in the
passing of the troops before General Darras. After the
departure of the last troop, I left the Military School myself
and went to give a verbal account of the incidents of the
morning to the military governor of Paris, as well as of the
declarations made by the condemned to Captain Lebrun-
In the evening, about half-past six, Commandant Picquart,
who had been present at the execution, came to my office,
Rue Cambon, to ask me for information in regard to the con
fidences of Dreyfus, to the captain of the Republican Gua'd
who had escorted him in the morning. I did not even know
his name, and did not learn it until the next morning. He
asked me if Dreyfus had indicated the nature of the docu-
ments he had delivered. I could not give him anything pre-
cise on the subject, and I proposed to him to have Captain
Lebrun-Renaud come to my office either the next morning
or the morning after, the next morning being Sunday. We
left the Rue Cambon together; Commandant Picquart took
me in his carriage as far as the Cours la Reine, where I left
him, and he went to the Ministry.
The convocation was, furthermore, useless: General Gonse,
sub-chief of the Etat-Major, came on January 6 to the Etat-
Major to ask Captain Lebrun-Renaud's address, went to
find him, took to him the Ministry, which received his decla-
(Signed) Lieutenant-Colonel Guerin.
Paris, February 14, 1898.
Copy certified September 16, 1898.
What date is this report? You have noticed, gen-
tlemen, it is February 14th, 1898. The degradation
took place January 5th, 1895. Why did Lieutenant-
Colonel Guerin prepare this report three years after?
Evidently because, at that time, it was desired to get
together all the reports that were in circulation on the
incident which the Chamber of Deputies was just dis-
cussing. But, as the Minister of War, Cavaignac, very
justly said, preference should be given to the earlier
testimony. Now, between what was reported as be-
ing the declaration of Captain Lebrun-Renaud, made
at the time of the degradation and the vague remem-
brances of Colonel Guerin, there is a profound differ-
ence. According to the version attributed the next
morning to Captain Lebrun-Renaud, Dreyfus should
have said, "The Minister knows that I am innocent,
he sent me word to that effect by Commandant Du
Paty de Clam, in my prison, three or four days ago.
The Minister knows very well that if I delivered docu-
ments, they were without value, and that it was in or-
der to procure more important ones." Of these protes-
tations of innocence, of the intervention of the Min-
ister convinced of this innocence, there is no longer
any trace in the report of Colonel Guerin.
Two explanations are possible: Either Captain
Lebrun-Renaud, who should, it would seem, have re-
served for his chiefs so grave a confidence, spoke a lit-
tie carelessly before his comrades who were anxious
to fathom the state of mind of the condemned; or Cap-
tain Lebrun-Renaud gave his comrades the same ver-
sion which he was to furnish the next day, and it is
then that it was realized how the truth can be per-
verted in passing from mouth to mouth. . . . Our
great fabulist has written a charming apologue upon
this, and although it applies to women, men and even
soldiers may profit by it. We have not the slightest
doubt that within a few weeks it was considered as an
averred fact among those who were not thoroughly
acquainted with the state of afifairs, that Dreyfus had
made avowals; it was such a relief to know that no
mistake had been made!
The same reservation should be made about the
testimony of Captain d'Attel cited before the Chamber.
Captain Lebrun-Renaud, it has been said, is not the
only witness who received confessions from Dreyfus;
another officer, Captain d'Attel, also received them
and transmitted them immediately to officers who tes-
tify thereupon. Captain d'Attel died a short time after
under rather tragical circumstances. But we have the
declarations of officers who received the assertions
furnished by him. Here are these declarations: —
"Captain Anthoine has the honour to state that the day of
the degradation of Dreyfus, he met in coming out of the room
where Dreyfus had been locked up, Captain d'Attel, his
friend, who had been on duty, belonging to the staff of the
"D'Attel told Captain Anthoine that Dreyfus had just said
before him: 'For what I have given up, it was not worth the
trouble. If they had left me alone, I would have had more in
"Captain Anthoine immediately repeated this to Com-
mander de Mitry."
Here is another declaration: —
"Commander de Mitry has the honour to bear witness
Captain Anthoine repeated to him the conversation which he
had just had with Captain d'Attel, of the staff, since deceased.
Captain Anthoine told him substantially that Dreyfus had
made remarks in presence of d'Attel, from which it resulted
that if Dreyfus gave up documents he did so with the view of
obtaining some in exchange for them."
M. Cavaignac, whose principle it is that preference
must be given to the testimonies of the very day, does
not indicate the date of these testimonies; but as they
have only been occasioned by the death of Captain
d'Attel, it is to be inferred that these contributions to
the inquiry are very tardy, like those of LieutCol.
Guerin, and you have had opportunity to remark that
we arrive at the attestations of the third degree, Com-
mander de Mitry declaring that Captain Anthoine has
told him that Captain d'Attel had reported to him a
certain remark made by Dreyfus .... How is it
that Captain d'Attel himself, who has played an official
part in this dismal ceremony, was not examined at the
opportunte moment and by whom it may concern?
It is upon these elements, the fragility of which need
not be demonstrated, that the following conclusion has
been arrived at.
"Either men's testimony will never more have any value or
else it results from these precise and harmonious testimonies
that Dreyfus has pronounced this sentence: 'If I have given
up these documents,' etc.
"Well, I weigh these words in my conscience. These
avowals are denied; it will perhaps be said to-morrow that
they have wrenched by threats and by promises; no matter
what people may have imagined to have been the motive, I
declare upon my conscience that I cannot admit that a man
can have pronounced these words: 'If I have given up these
documents . . . . ' if he has not really given them up. — M.
Cavaignac's Speech at the Chamber of Deputies, July 7, 1898.
Is this conclusion justified? We will prove to you,
by M. Cavaignac's own speech, that upon this point
the Minister deviates quite involuntarily from the text
attributed to Captain Lebrun-Renaud ; but one may
go further, one may think that the text, supposing it
to be exact, would not authorize the conclusion drawn
from it by the orator. If Dreyfus had admitted that
he was guilty of letting himself be allured, it does not
follow that he would have admitted he was a traitor
and the author of the bordereau. It would, on the con-
trary, have been a defence against the accusation of
espionage. Suppose that this defence had been pro-
duced before a court-martial and that it had been ad-
mitted to be well founded? Would Dreyfus have been
declared guilty of treason? Evidently not.
However, we will not dwell any longer on this way
of looking upon the matter, for the true text (we mean
that which would have been produced the day after
the degradation) excludes far more powerfully still
the interpretation which has seemed so legitimate to
the Minister of War. It is to himself that we apply
for the text.
"These words having been published, Captain Lebrun-
Renaud, one of the officers of whom I have spoken, was
ordered to appear at the Ministry of War, and there, before
the Minister of War, he related what he had heard. He had
been conducted to the Ministry of War by General Gonse,
who remained during the conversation, and who, on the 6th
of January, 1895, wrote to General de Boisdeffre, who was
away, the letter which I will read.
"I hasten to tell you that I have myself conducted Captain
Lebrun-Renault of the Garde Republicane before the Minis-
ter who, after having heard him, sent him to the President.
In a general way, Captain Lebrun-Renault's conversation
with Dreyfus was chiefly a monologue of the latter, who con-
tradicted and corrected himself incessantly. The following
were the prominent features: —
" 'Upon the whole, no original documents have been given
up, but merely copies.' Coming from an individual who al-
ways declares that he knows nothing, this phrase, to say the
least, was a singular one. Then, protesting that he is not
guilty, he ended by saying: 'The Minister knows that I am
innocent, he has sent Commander du Paty de Clam to tell
me so in prison, three or four days ago, and he knows that
if I have given up documents, they are documents of no im-
portance, and chat I gave them up in order to obtain more
"The Captain concluded by expressing the opinion that
Dreyfus made partial avowals or began an avowal mingled
with reticences and falsehoods."
I resume M. Cavaignac's speech: —
"Captain Lebrun-Renault himself inscribed the same day,
January 6th, upon a leaf taken from his memorandum book,
the following note, which is still in his hands: —
"Yesterday, degradation of Captain Dreyfus. Having been
requested to take him from the prison of the Cherche-Midi to
the Military School, I remained with him from 8 till 9 o'clock.
He was very dejected; asserted that within three years his
innocence would be recognized. At about half-past 8, with-
out my asking him, he told me : 'The Minister knows very
well that if I gave up documents they were of no value, and
that I did it to procure myself more important ones.' He
requested me to give orders to the adjutant charged to de-
grade him, to accomplish this mission as speedily as pos-
From this document, the only contemporary docu-
ment presented, it results that Dreyfus never ceased
to protest that he was innocent; that he asserted that
the Minister knew that he was innocent, and that he
gave as a proof thereof that the Minister knew very
well that if he had given up documents, these docu-
ments were of no importance, and that it was done
with the view to obtain serious ones. Now five days
before the convict had addressed to his counsel. Me.
Demange, the following note which clearly explains
these words :
"Commander du Paty came to-day, 31st of December, 1894,
at half-past five in the evening, after the rejection of the ap-
peal, to ask me on behalf of the Minister, if I had not perhaps
been victim of my own imprudence, if I had not simply been
wanting to decoy, and if afterwards I had not let myself be
drawn into a fatal succession of circumstances. I answered him
that I had never had any connection with any agent or at-
tache of any foreign Power, that I had never tried to inveigle
anyone that I was innocent. After Commander du Paty'.^
departure I wrote the following letter to the Minister:
" 'In conformity with your order I have received the visit
of Commander du Paty de Clam, to whom I have again de-
clared that I was innocent, that I had even never committed
an imprudence. I am condemned. I have no favour to ask
except that for the sake of my honour, which I hope
will be restored to me some day, once I am gone, unceasing
enquiries be made; this is the only favour I ask.' "
This is what took place the day of the degradation.
The convict said:
The Minister knows that I am innocent, he has sent some
body to tell me so; he knows that if I have given up docu-
ments without importance, it was to obtain some serious
ones; that is to say, he knows that at all events I am not a
traitor, and he lets me sufTer.
The Ministerial version haunted the mind of the con-
vict and he invoked it as a supreme protestation.
It is superfluous to point out how the slightest varia-
tion might accentuate the sense of the phrase. Put:
"The Minister has sent some one to tell me that if I
have given up documents . . . ." or "The Min-
ister believes that if I have given up documents . . ."
or again: "The Minister knows that if I had given
up documents . . . .'', and -there no more remains
the sHghtest room for a discussion. It was therefore
very important to make an official, or at least, an or-
dinary report such as all officers of the police charged
with a mission, are in the habit of furnishing, of the
expressions used by the convict; to verify them by ques-
tioning the convict, in short to make an enquiry, since
these expressions appeared to throw a new light upon
the affair. It was perhaps an occasion to appoint a
competent functionary for the purpose of making an
enquiry. Nothing of the kind was done.
General Gonse in his letter to the Chief of the Court-
Martial General, confines himself to giving the im-
pressions of Captain Lebrun-Renaud. "Captain Le-
brun-Renaud has concluded," he says, ''by expressing
the opinion that Dreyfus made avowals or commence-
ments of avowals mingled with reticences and false-
If Dreyfus had control enough over himself to en-
velope his avowals with reticences and falsehoods, it is
hard to understand how he could have divulged a com-
promising secret to an officer of the police who only
remained with him an instant, when he had resisted
without failing during the examination with which you
are acquainted, and again when proclaiming his inno-
cence while going through the torture of being de-
graded, and when he knew he would have to continue
to proclaim his innocence indefinitely without growing
weak or tired.
It seems that such was at that time the belief of the
Government, and if the question itself has not been
thoroughly investigated, it is because it was thought
that it was of no importance.
NOTES FROM CAPTAIN DREYFUS TO HIS WIFE
ON THE DAY OF HIS MILITARY DEGRADA-
TION, JANUARY 5TH, 1895-
My darling: To tell you what I have suffered to-day, I
do not wish; your grief is so great that I am not going to
In promising you to live, in promising you to resist until
my name and honour are re-established, I have made the
greatest sacrifice that a man of heart, an honest man whose
honour has just been snatched away from him, can make.
Provided, my God, that my physical forces do not fail me!
My conscience, which in no way reproaches me, sustains me;
but I am near the end of patience and strength; to have con-
secrated all my life to honour, never to have sullied it, and to
see myself where I am, after having been subjected to the
most outrageous affront that can be inflicted on a soldier !
So, my darling, do everything in the world to find the real
culprit, do not give it up for a single instant. It is my only
hope in the horrible misfortune which follows me.
I will tell you later, when we are happy again, what I have
suffered to-day, how many times, in the midst of these numer-
ous peregrinations among real criminals (he speaks of the
common law prisoners confined at La Sante), my heart has
bled. I asked myself what I was doing there, why I was
there! It seemed to me that I was the victim of a hallucina-
tion. But alas, my clothes torn and soiled, brutally recall the
truth to me; contemptuous glances that are cast upon me tell
me too clearly why I am here.
Oh, alas! why can we not open, with a scalpel, the heart of
people and read therein! All good people who saw me pass
would read there, graven in letters of gold: "That man is a
man of honour!" But how I understand them! In their
place, I should have nothing but the highest contempt at the
sight of an officer who was said to be a traitor.
But, alas, that is what is tragic: this traitor is not I.
(The Same Day.)
I have the courageous soul of the soldier, I ask myself if 1
have the heroic soul of the martyr.
(The Same Day.)
Cheer up! I retain all my energy, strong in my pure and
spotless conscience. I belong to my family. I owe it to my
good name, I have not the right to desert while there remains
in me a breath of life, I will struggle with the hope of soon
seeing the light dawn. So, pursue all researches. . . . The
physical sufferings are nothing, you know that I do not fear
them; but my moral tortures are far from being finished. O
my darling, what was I doing the day that I promised you to
live? I really believed that my soul was stronger. To be
always resigned when one is innocent, that is easy to say, but
hard to do.
THE PART PLAYED BY COLONEL DU PATY
DE CLAM AND COLONEL HENRY.
[From the Report of M. Ballot-Beaupre, May 2pth, iSpp.]
Here is the judgment, on Lieutenant-Colonel Du
Paty de Clam, by Commandant Cuignet.
"Du Paty is a proud fellow, vain even, whose vanity is still
increased by the success of his career; he has always been,
according to those who know him, on the watch for oppor-
tunities that would place him in the foreground. He is, at the
same time, of a character easily influenced, has an insinuating
disposition, knows well how to make a good impression on
his chiefs; he is what we call, in military slang, a 'smoke-
''He was on the best of terms with General de Boisdoffre,
and when the Dreyfus affair came up, it was he who pushed
the arrest, and who had himself designated as an ofhcer of the
"When Dreyfus was arrested in the office of General de
BoisdefTre, M. Gochefort, who was present at the time, said to
" 'Leave me a little time ; in an hour or two from now, I will
know what he has in his stomach (ventre).'
"Du Paty protested that it was purely a military affair; he
evidently feared that the honour of the confession would es-
cape him, and he imagined, there and then, the scene of the
dictation, hoping by this means to obtain the admissions of
Dreyfus was, therefore, arrested immediately, and
he was taken to the prison of Cherche-Midi by Henry,
who in the carriage made him talk, and prepared an
account of their conversation for the purpose of im-
puting a lie to him: —
"Then I found myself in a room adjoining the one where
he (Captain Dreyfus) was interrogated, and I heard, per-
fectly and very distinctly. Commandant du Paty say to him,
'You are accused of having delivered to a foreign Power a
note upon covered troops, a note on Madagascar, a projected
manual on artillery firing'; when Captain Dreyfus asserted
that Commandant du Paty had not enumerated to him any
of the documents in question, and that he confined himself to
speaking of secret or confidential documents, Captain Drey-
fus knowingly concealed the truth."
If there had been a lie, it was not Dreyfus who was
guilty of it, but Henry himself.
In fact, according to the ofificial text of the interrogatory by
Du Paty de Clam, which, the 15th of October, preceded the
incarceration, Dreyfus had only in a vague manner been
accused of high treason.
Du Paty de Clam had not said to him, "You are
accused of having delivered to a foreign Power a note
on covered troops, a note on Madagascar and a pro-
posed manual on artillery firing."
Du Paty de Clam had not said any more to him, in
the subsequent interrogatories of the i8th, 22nd and
24th October, in the course of which he had merely
shown some detached words (of the incriminating
note), without yet determining the accusation.
The 24th, particularly, the following colloquy took
place between them.
"Q. — You know then of what you are accused, when you
said a little while ago that you did not know?
"A. — I am always told that I have stolen documents, with
out being shown the foundation for the accusation; I ask that
I be shown the incriminating papers, and I shall perhaps un-
derstand then the infernal plot or web that is being woven
It was only on October 29th that also in terms vol-
untarily inexact, Du Paty de Clam said to him : "Here
is the photograph of a letter which is attributed to you.
This letter was taken abroad by means of a photo-
graphic portfolio, and we are in possession of the film
negative. Do you recognize this letter as being in
And on the 31st he addressed to the Minister a re-
port containing statements which do not figure in the
interrogatory signed by Dreyfus; for example: "On
two occasions I pretended to go out to send to the for-
eign agent to whom the incriminating document had
been addressed, the letter that Captain Dreyfus had
just written from my dictation. Each time he stopped
me the moment I opened the door; the third time
only, having again become master of himself, he said
to me, 'Oh, well, try.' ''
Nevertheless, said Commandant Cuignet, M. Du
Paty de Clam asked himself if the Minister would find
the charges sufficient and would transmit the dossier
to the military governor of Paris; Henry, on his side,
had the same thought.
It was necessary under these conditions, in order
to force the hand of the Minister of War, General
Mercier, to noise abroad the affair, which until then
had remained absolutely secret.
The 28th of October, an editor of the journal the
Libre Parole, M. Papillaud, received this letter: —
My dear friend, I told you so; it is Captain Dreyfus, who
lives at 6, Avenue du Trocadero, who was arrested the iSth
for being a spy, and who is in prison at the Cherche-Midi Jail.
They say that he is traveling, but it is a lie, because they wish
to keep the afifair quiet. All Israel is moving. Truly yours,
The 31st, the Eclair announced the arrest of a Jew-
And November ist, the Libre Parole, the violent anti-
Semitic newspaper, had in large letters: High treason,
arrest of the Jewish OMcer, A. Dreyfus.
"As the journals had commenced to publish the
affair," said General Mercier, ''I asked the President
of the Council to convene the Cabinet, which decided,
All Saints Day, to put Dreyfus in the hands of military
Is it Henry himself who had written the letter of
October 28th? M. Papillaud, in the Libre Parole of
April 3rd, 1899, declares — "For me this letter has only
the value of an anonymous letter, as I do not know
by whom it is signed.''
But Commandant Cuignet believes that the indis-
cretion originated with Du Paty de Clam, who else-
where denies it.
"Du Paty, indulged, for his own benefit, in reprehensible
acts; it is he who, without the knowledge of his chiefs,
informed the Press of the arrest of Dreyfus, which had been
kept back by the Government for fifteen days; he wished in
this way to force the hand of the Government and have the
This manoeuvre — whoever may have been its author
— (du Paty de Clam or Henry) — had then succeeded.
On the 3rd of November, the order for an inquiry
And Commandant d'Ormescheville heard, in his ex-
amination, Henry, who, under oath, '^maintained ex-
actly the terms of his report," that is to say, the impu-
tation of a lie directed against Dreyfus, when it was
the imputation itself that was untruthful.
The examination finished, the Council of War was
convened for the 19th of December, and during four
days sat behind closed doors.
Du Paty de Clam and Henry were both summoned
The attitude of the first is characterized in a note
which before the pleading Dreyfus sent to his advo-
cate, Me. Demange. This note is wholly in the hand
of the accused.
"Without Commandant du Paty the whole accusation
would already have fallen; it is he who stirs up hate. Has he
the right thus to come constantly intervening in the debates?
One would surely say that it was he who directed them."
Henry had an attitude still more significant.
He was delegated by the Minister of War to testify
in the name of the Information Bureau.
General Zurlinden explains: ''As in all trials for
espionage, an officer from the Information Bureau
was delegated by the Minister of War to testify in the
name of the service; the officer designated was
It is in the name of the Information Bureau, in the
name of the Chief of the General Staff, in the name
of the Minister himself, that Henry spoke to the
Council of War.
His word, therefore, must have considerable weight
in the balance!
And what did he say?
Here is the note of Dreyfus:
"After the deposition of Commandant Henry, unmeaning
enough, Commandant Paty du Clam had him called to the
bar. Commandant Henry has, then, made a terrible declara-
tion, but without any proof. It is an infamy to come forward
and make such a declaration without bringing any testimony
to bear it out. To accuse an officer at the bar without bring-
ing any proof — it is monstrous!"
And Me. Demange added this comment:
Commandant Henry was heard twice by the audience. The
first time he said nothing new; then he asked to be heard a
second time; he then declared with a solemn tone, that since
the month of February, a person absolutely honourable* had
stated to him that an officer of the Ministry of War was
a traitor, and that in the month of March the same person
had renewed his assertion, adding that it was an officer of the
"Dreyfus who, in the first six months of 1894, was in the
second bureau, asked with violence that the honourable person
be called by the Council of War; I, in my turn, insisted with
energy, demanding the name of this honourable person, and
calling upon the witness, in the name of the oath he had
taken, to tell the whole truth. Commandant Henry replied to
me 'When an officer has a terrible secret in his head, he does
not confide it even to his cap'; then turning towards Drey-
fus: 'I assert, myself, that the traitor is there!' "
The Councillor of State, M. Lepine, who in his offt-
cial capacity as Prefect of Police, attended the debates,
expresses himself in these terms :
"The deposition of Commandant Henry .... it was
very short; it lasted some minutes hardly; it bore upon the
suspicions of the StaflF, upon the discovery of the bordereau.
Some brief, categorical phrases; it would be impossible for
me to quote from memory the terms of this sensational depo-
sition; but the tone, the gestures, the attitude of the com-
mandant, I see them yet. It was the apparition of the judge.
When I recall at the end of four years this vision of Henry
raising his hand, the Cross of the Legion of Honour on his
large chest, it seems to me that there were only two words in
his deposition: 'It is he, I know it, I swear it!' "
But how did Henry know that during the first six
months of 1894, an officer of the 2nd bureau was guilty
It was — according to General Roget — through an
agent of the Information Bureau, who, in two reports
(* It has been proved at the Rennes Court Martial thai
this "honourable person" was a foreigner in the pay of the
of the 28th of March and the 6th of April, 1894, had
declared that he knew from an honourable person,
occupying a high position in Paris, M. de B ,
that among the officers of the Staff, belonging or hav-
ing recently belonged to, the 2nd bureau, was a traitor;
and M. de B . . . . had personally in June follow-
ing, furnished verbal information to Henry of the
On this we must make three comments:
I. That in the Picquart testimony we read: "I know
perfectly the person called honourable, and if it is impossiblc
for me to name him without asking the authorization of the
Minister, I can at least, if you desire it, say a word on the
subject. This person, I have characterized as worthless, and
in my opinion, he is nothing else; he was in relations with
the foreign diplomatic world, and related to Henry either
directly, or by the intermediary of a police officer of lower
grade, named Guenee, what was said between military at-
taches, and he repeated it, often without taking into account
the value of what he heard. I have at another time given to
this man, through Henry, a sum of 1,200 francs to reward
him for his services.
2nd. That in the reports of the agent Guenee of March 28th
and April 6th, there is no question of an ofBcer of the 2nd
3rd. That in a note addressed to the Keeper of Seals on
September loth, 1898, the Minister of War, General Zurlin-
den, merely said:
"Two months later, in 1894, in a conversation with Com-
mandant Henry, M. de B returned to the same question,
and renewed his accusation, fixing and specifying that the
correspondent of A and of B was an officer belonging or hav-
ing belonged recently to the second Bureau.
M. de B . . . had he really furnished this infor-
Nothing establishes it.
But the deposition of Henry, who asserted it as
delegate of the Minister of War, had for this reason,
even more than that of Du Paty de Clam, an excep-
It remains to examine if the further conduct of the
two witnesses did not take away all value, all guaran-
tees of sincerity, from the declarations that they made
in 1894 before the Council of War, and if the authority
for the judgment given is not found from that time
The complaints against them all had their origin in
the suspicions which in 1896 Lieutenant-Colonel Pic-
quart, who had succeeded Colonel Sandherr as chief of
the section of statistics since July ist preceding, had
conceived and expressed, in regard to Walsin-Ester-
hazy, chief of battalion, whom he considered the author
of the bordereau.
In what way were these suspicions really roused?
Had they been caused by the discover}^ of a telegram,
of a petit bleu, received at the Information Bureau in
March, 1896, and presented in August by M. Picquart
to General Gonse as compromising Esterhazy, to
whom a foreign agent would have addressed it?
Was the telegram authentic, or was it false?
Under these circumstances, had Picquart taken for
confidant one of his friends — ^I. Leblois, lawyer, and
had he shown him secret papers, interesting to the se-
curity of the State?
It must be remembered that Picquart, having col-
lected information derogatory to the morality of
Esterhazy and his involved financial situation, having
learned also, from an interview arranged outside of
France between Commandant Henry, aided by Cap-
tain Lauth, and a foreign agent, R. C, that a French
chief of battalion, aged from forty-five to fifty years,
was said to have given information in 1893 or 1894
in regard to a gun on trial at Chalons camp, on the
new rapid firing cannon, and on fortification works
in the East — having succeeded at last in procuring
letters in Esterhazy's handwriting, wished to make the
Chief of Stafif and the Minister share his conviction
that the author of the bordereau was Esterhazy, and
It is important to remember, on the other hand, that
the officers under orders at the Section of Statistics,
were disturbed by these steps; that particularly. Com-
mandant Henry had resolved to counteract Picquart's
work, to ruin his authority in the eyes of Generals de
Boisdefifre, and Gonse, and that, with this object in
view, he allied himself with the legal police officer of
the Dreyfus trial, Lieutenant-Colonel du Paty de Clam.
Then, to reply to the production of the petit bleu and
to a note of September ist, 1896, in which Lieutenant-
Colonel Picquart gave his opinion on the guilt of Es-
terhazy, appeared successively two false documents.
September 4th, 1896, the "Weyler forgery (No. 372
of the secret dossier); it is a letter sent to the Minister
of Colonies to be forwarded to Dreyfus; in this letter,
whose characters are strangely twisted, the signature,
a pretended Weyler, announces the approaching mar-
riage of his daughter. But between the lines was
written in invisible ink this phrase: "Impossible to un-
derstand last communication; necessary to return to
the old system; let me know the word for the cup-
boards, and where the documents taken away can be
found; actor ready to act at once."
Commandant Cuignet declared, before the Criminal
Chamber of the Court of Cassation, that, to his mind,
this paper, fraudulently prepared to increase the
charges against Dreyfus, was the work of Du Paty de
Clam. But the latter denies it.
The second fraud, October 31st to November 2nd,
1896, is the Henry forgery; we will return to him.
Meanwhile the Eclair inserted in its number of Sep-
tember 15th, the article relating the communication
which, at the Council of War of 1894, had been made
in regard to the paper "This rascal D " (canaille
de D ), wherein the words "that rascal D " had
been replaced by "that animal Dreyfus." Comman-
dant Cuignet also attributes this article to Du Paty de
Nevertheless, they had succeeded in persuading
General Billot that Picquart, who had been sent on a
mission, should be replaced by Henry, himself, as
Chief of the Bureau of Statistics.
And, a month after Picquart's departure, a letter,
which was said to be addressed to him, signed "Sper-
anza," intended to destroy him, was detained at the
]\'Iinistry of War (he did not know it until a year after) ;
it was another counterfeit of which du Paty de Clam
pretends to have had no knowledge.
But it was already felt that a campaign was going
to be undertaken for the revision of the Dreyfus trial.
M. Bernard Lazare had published a pamphlet entitled,
"A Judicial Error." The relatives and friends of the
condemned man were moving, and Senator Scheurer-
Kestner, convinced of his innocence, had on Sep-
tember I2th, 1897, when at Belfort, announced to a
superior officer of the Staff his intention to follow up
the revision. As indicated in a recent letter from him,
published with his authorisation, he had been begged
by this officer, on October i6th, in the name of the
■Minister, not to make any beginning without seeing
Therefore, on the i6th of October, at the General
Staff, it was decided to warn Esterhazy, in order that
he could be on his guard.
An anonymous letter, signed P. D. C. (is it Paty de
Clam?), had been sent to the Minister to delay action;
and a meeting took place, in which the question was
discussed whether they should write under cover of
an assumed name to Esterhazy, whose address Henry
had found through Gribelin, keeper of records in the
"It is true," said Du Paty de Clam, "that there was a meet-
ing in which the means of warning Esterhazy were discussed,
and among the suggestions was that of an anonymous letter,
whose composition was modified twice. One of these letters
was almost a verbatim copy of an anonymous letter written to
the address of the Ministry. The other was much shorter and
was composed by Colonel Henry."
"The letters must still be in existence; they were not sent.
The last time that I saw the dossiers in which these letters
ought to be, they were at the Staff ofifice."
"One day," said General Billot, "I do not recall the exact
date, General Gonse, in his midday report, when giving me
different anonymous documents, announced that a campaign
was going to be made to accuse Commandant Esterhazy of
being the author of the treason for which Dreyfus had been
condemned. General Gonse asked me, as well as the Council-
lor who had come to call me and who had mentioned to him
a note verified by M. Gonse, my opinion, and said that he had
asked the Minister if it would not be in order to warn this
officer by an anonymous letter.
"I replied to General Gonse that not only would I not
authorize a communication of this nature, but I should forbid
it in a formal manner.
"In the evening, at six o'clock, I notified General de Bois-
deffre of this incident at the time of the report, and I told
him to renew to General Gonse the order that I had given
"The next morning, at the noon report, General Gonse,
when I questioned him, replied that he had received from
General de Boisdefifre the confirmation of my orders."
Esterhazy nevertheless received, the i8th or 20th, a
letter signed "Esperance," which we quote:
"Your name is going to be the object of a great scandal.
The Dreyfus family are going to accuse you publicly of being
the author of the writing which served as the cause of the
trial of Dreyfus. This family has numerous models of your
writing to use as points in the examination. A colonel who
was at the Ministry last year, M. Piqart, gave the papers to
the Dreyfus family. This gentleman has now left for Tonkin,
I believe. The Dreyfus family count on making you wild by
publishing specimens of your handwriting in the journals,
and making you flee to your relatives in Hungary. This
will indicate that you are guilty; and then the revision of the
trial will be asked for in order to have the innocence of Drey-
fus proclaimed. It is M. Piqart who gave the information to
the family. This M. Piqart brought your handwriting from
sub-chiefs at Rouen last year. I hear all that from a sergeant
of your regiment, to whom they gave money to have your
handwriting. You are now well warned of what these scoun-
drels will do to ruin you. It is for you now to defend your
name and honour of your children. Make haste, for the
family are going to take steps to ruin you.
"Your devoted friend,
"Do not show this letter to any one. It is for y'ou alone,
and to save you from the great dangers which threaten you."
M. du Paty de Clam, before the Criminal Chamber,
on January 12th last, declared that he was not the
author of this letter.
But had he not himself admitted the contrary on the
loth of September preceding", before General Ren-
ouard, who, in his Report the next morning to the
Minister of War, said, "Questioned on the circum-
stances which had given him a knowledge of the in-
tended campaign projected and undertaken against
Esterhazy, Lieutenant-Colonel du Paty de Clam pre-
tends that having received orders from his chiefs to
prepare successively two drafts of anonymous letters
destined to warn Esterhazy, letters that he also claimed
had not been sent — he concluded from this that they
proposed, by charging him with this work, to make
him au courant with the afifair in order to incite him
to warn Esterhazy."
General Roget also does not hesitate to say, "I have
been able to secure the certainty that the letter of
October 26th, 1897, signed "Esperance" .... is
that of du Paty."
Be that as it may, Esterhazy was warned; he
hastened to Paris, and incredible scenes took place.
Esterhazy said before the Criminal Chamber: —
"In October, 1897, I was in the countrj% when I received
on October i8th (I was told to say that it was the 20th) a
letter; this letter was signed 'Esperance.'
"On receipt of this letter, whose handwriting I did not
know, I was very much surprised and started for Paris.
"I went to the Rue de Douai I would have it understood
that, until then, I had concealed, in the strictest manner, my
relations with Mme. Pays, and I thought that only a very few
persons at the Ministry of War, and under conditions that I
will explain later, could know of them.
"I had telegraphed to Mme. Pays, who was in Normandy.
"The morning after my arrival I was very much occupied
with this letter, and in the evening, on returning about the
dinner hour, I learned from the concierge (animated at that
time by different sentiments from those she has since mani-
fested), that a gentleman had been to inquire for me. I was
very much surprised; no one, in fact, knew of this address.
"The concierge told me that she had declared to this gen-
tleman that I was unknown; he replied that he knew perfectly
well that I was in the house; that, furthermore, he had come
in my interest, and that it was absolutely necessary for him to
see me; he had told her that he would return in the evening.
"1 went to my home, 27, Rue de la Bienfaisance, where I
could not get in, having left the keys in the country.
'"I asked the concierge if any one had been to inquire for
me. I thought that any one who wanted to see me would
first go to my only known residence.
"The concierge said she had seen no one.
"I returned then to the Rue de Douai, and waited all the
"No one came.
"The next morning at an early hour (half-past seven) the
concierge came up and told me that the gentleman who came
the night before was waiting in the street, near the Square
"I went down, and I found some one with blue spectacles,
and whose whole bearing, in spite of his efforts, stamped him
as a soldier.
"This gentleman came to me and said:
" 'Commandant, I am charged with a very grave commun-
ication in your urgent interest.'
"The manner of this man, the certainty I had that no one
outside of the Ministry could know that I might be at the Rue
de Douai, caused me to at once suppose that I was in the
presence of a messenger from the Ministry of War.
"I replied to this man that I thought I knew the object of
his visit, and that I had received in the country a letter con-
taining a very singular announcement. This person then
" 'Do not be uneasy, my commandant; we know what there
is in all that; you have defenders and protectors who are very
powerful and an coiirant with everything. Will you come this
evening to the rendezvous that I am going to indicate?'
"I said to him: 'Very willingly.'
"And he then showed me a piece of paper, indicating the
angle of the Reservoir for the waters of the Vanne, opposite
the Park of Montsouris.
"The rendezvous was for five o'clock.
"I went to the place at the time mentioned, and, at pre-
cisely five o'clock, I saw a carriage stop at a point about one
hundred yards from where I was, in which there were three
"Two of these persons stepped out; the third remained in
the carriage; the other two came to me. In one I recognized
the man I had seen in the morning. The other had a false
beard and spectacles. The latter person spoke to me quickly,
" 'Commandant, you know what this means?'
"And very rapidly, with great volubility, he related all that
had been done against me since 1894 by Colonel Picquart,
entering into numerous details on the manoeuvres of many
important persons — things which at that time were absolutely
new to me.
"This man also assured me, seeing the profound surprise
that I manifested at all this news, that all these machinations
were known, foreseen; repeated to me that I had the most
powerful defenders, and that I must only obey strictly the
instructions which would be given me, that my name would
not even be mentioned.
"I tried at various times to make him tell who he was, but
"I saw, however, that he was an officer; I should have been
glad to know who he was and from whom he came.
"He told me at the end of half an hour's conversation, not
to be disturbed; that I should be kept au courant, and that I
should be every day in the waiting-room of the Military Club
at five o'clock, where the first man would come to find me if
there was anything to tell me.
"They left me, telling me to go away in a certain direction;
they left from the side where the carriage was, so that I could
not see the third person who had remained in the carriage.
"The next morning, at the same hour as the day before,
the concierge brought me a line in pencil saying: —
" 'In the cab, before a certain number, Rue Vintmille.'
"I went in all haste; I found the man with the false beard,
who said to me : 'Get in quickly, and told me to indicate a
place where we could have a long talk without being dis-
"I said to him: 'I do not know any other place around
here than the Cemetery of Montmartre, if you wish to go
"We went there, and then this man said to me: —
" 'You must ask at once for an audience with the Minister
of War, and we will state what you are to say to him (because
I had asked : "Demand an audience of the Minister, to tell him
what? To show him this letter that I have received"?) He
" 'No, we will arrange what you are to say to him.'
"I then said to him:
" 'But all this is very well, I see that you are an officer. I
discern that you come from the Ministry, I should very much
like to know who you are ?
" 'The man replied:
" 'I am Colonel du Paty de Clam, of the stafif of the army.
And you have only to do what I tell you.'
"I did not know Colonel du Paty de Clam.
"I had met him once for an hour, sixteen or seventeen
years before, at a meeting of two columns in Africa. In view
of his grade and his capacity, I said to him: —
" 'This is sufficient, my colonel; you can count on my ab-
"Then Colonel du Paty de Clam dictated to me in the
cemetery itself a request for an audience with the Minister,
gave me to understand that he would have to make a report
of what had passed, and gave me a rendezvous for the same
"He had said nothing about the rendezvous at the Military
Club; I went there, however, and I found the first gentle-
man, who made me get into a carriage, and took me slowly
as far as the Cirque d'Hiver.
"He told me, with many details, all the machinations of
which I knew nothing. He assured me that I was perfectly
well known and laid great stress on the high protection of
which he had spoken to me the day before.
"I had addressed my letter to the Minister.
"In the evening, I again saw at the meeting-place indicated,
Colonel du Paty de Clam, who made me write from his dicta-
tion, notes in regard to what I was to say to General Billot.
The same evening I found Colonel Henry in a carriage before
"Colonel Henry was one of my comrades. I had been with
him for more than twenty years in the Information Depart-
ment, very soon after the organization of the department; I
was there as lieutenant, and Henry also had the same grade
and the same employment ; I had seen him very frequently
"I knew later that the third person who remained in the
carriage at the park of Montsouris was Colonel Henry. Henry
then very briefly told me net to be alarmed, that all that
Colonel du Paty de Clam had told me was entirely correct,
and that, in high authority, they well knew what was going
on, and were determined to defend me by the most extreme
measures against what he called 'abominable manoeuvres.' "
Are these assertions of Esterhazy exact?
It is impossible, unfortunately, to have the least
doubt in view of the statements of the Archivist,
Gribelin, who accompanied them, and of Du Paty
But let us continue the testimony of Esterhazy:
"The next morning I was notified that I would be received
the day after by General Millet, Director of Infantry, in the
name of the Minister.
"I saw Colonel du Paty, and I said to him:
" 'Why General Millet? The chief of a sub-direction has
nothing to see in such a matter. If the Minister did not wish
to receive me, he should have arranged for the Chief of his
Cabinet to do so, or rather, the Chief of the Staff of the army.'
"In fact, the very wording of my request for an audience
explained that it was on a matter important enough for the
Chief of Staff.
"The Colonel replied that it was not necessary to see
General Boisdeffre, consequently, he must remain in reserve,
thus indicating that General de Boisdeffre did not wish to
take any active part.
"I went to see General Millet; I presented the letter and I
related to him what I had been instructed to say.
"The general listened to me, and told me that he found it
all very strange; that it was the first intimation he had of it;
that he did not understand the story at all; that, in his opin-
ion I attached a great deal of importance to an anonymous
letter, and that he could only advise me to make a written
statement of what I had just communicated to him, to enclose
a copy of the anonymous letter that I had received, and to
address the whole to the Minister.
''The same evening I reported to Colonel du Paty de Clam
the reply of General Millet, and he dictated to me the word-
ing of a letter to address to the Minister; this letter, as well
as all that I wrote in 1897, was given word for word as or-
This letter was dictated to me word for word. It contained
a series of explanations agreed upon, and the wording was
given me for approval, as is proved by the note from Colonel
"Copy your letter and seal it well; keep the manuscript?
"At the same time Colonel du Paty said to me: The Min-
ister cannot do otherwise than tell General de Boisdeffre of
the contents of this letter, and then we shall move.'
"The next morning at the post-office in the Rue de Bac,
opposite the Bon Marche, Colonel Henry informed me that
General de Boisdeffre had not yet received from General Bil-
lot any communication from my letter.
"I insist upon this fact because if Colonel Henry was aware
that General de Boisdeffre had not been informed by the
Minister of the letter that I had written to the latter, he could
only have been notified of it by General de Boisdeffre. then
awaiting the effect of my letter, and consequently knowing
"Henry said to me:
"The Minister is going to keep that for five or six days be-
fore taking any decision, according to his custom. You will
be told this evening what to do.
"That evening I saw Colonel du Paty on the Esplanade of
the Invalides, and he said to me:
" 'It is decided that you are to write to General de Bois-
defifre directly; your letter will then permit General de Bois-
deffre to intervene personally and to speak to the Minister of
the letter that you have sent to the latter.'
"In other words, it would induce the transmittal of my let-
ter to General de Boisdeffre, in order that this general officer
could come upon the scene himself, thanks to the letter I had
"At this time, Colonel du Paty said to me one evening:
" The chiefs are trying to have with you a means of com-
munication which will not be disclosed, because it is probable
that you are watched. Having been informed of all that is
preparing, it would be better to have, in case of necessity,
an indirect transmission. General de Boisdefifre thought of
the Marquis de Nettancourt, your brother-in-law.'
"I said: 'No, my brother-in-law is in the country; I do
not want to ask him to return for such a service.'
"Then he said: 'We thought also of one of your comrades
in the regiment;' and he asked me to mention one of them.
"Really, one cannot ask a friend to run like that at all hour<i
of the day or night."
"And I thought, unfortunate inspiration it was, of my
cousin Christian; but as he was at Bordeaux, and I could not
make him come back, I said:
"I would propose to you some one devoted of whom I am
sure, but I really do not dare to make the proposition. And
I named Mme. Pays.
"Colonel du Paty told me that he would report, and the
next morning he told me that they would accept Mme. Pays
"In the course of these interviews Colonel du Paty pre-
sented to me one evening a lady whom it is useless to name,
and who also served as intermediary at various times.
"At this moment I saw Colonel Henry, who said to me:
" 'All these people do not move. Meline (the Prime Min-
ister) and Billot (the War Minister) and all the Government
are taken up by the approaching elections and by the votes
represented by Scheurer-Kestner, Reinach, etc., etc'
"He was even very violent; I will not repeat the military
terms in which he indulged. He ended by saying:
"If we do not put a bayonet in the back of all those people,
they will sacrifice the whole French Army to their seat as
Senator or Deputy!*
"And, on leaving me, he said: 'Sabre in hand! We are
going to charge! '
"This occurred the day before my first letter to the Presi-
dent of the Republic, that is to say the 28th of October.
"Colonel du Paty de Clam dictated the text of the letter to
the President of the Republic.
"I called his attention to the fact that the wording of this
first letter was very extraordinary. (All the details of this
letter were dictated to me word for word; this dictation took
place on the Esplanade des Invalides, and I wrote with a
"M. du Paty replied:
" 'Everybody knows that you are queer. From you it will
not appear extraordinary. It is in your style.'
"I remember very well that I said to him:
" 'Since it is like me, I don't care. . . . The moment
that you command I obey.' "
Here is the letter:
"Paris, October 20th, 1897.
"To THE President of the Republic —
"I have the honour to address you the text of a letter
anonymously written, which was sent to me the 20th of Oc-
"Ic is I who am designated in that letter as being the
chosen victim. I do not wish to wait until my name has
been given to the public to know what will be the attitude of
my chiefs. I therefore addressed my chief and natural pro-
tector, the Minister of War, to know if he would summon me
the moment my name was pronounced.
"The Minister has not replied. Now my house is illus-
trious enough in the annals of history in France and in that
of the great European Courts, to make the Government of
my country have a care that my name should not be dragged
in the mud.
"I address myself to the supreme chief of the army — to the
President of the Repubhc. I ask him to stop the scandal,
as he can and should.
"I ask him for justice against the infamous instigator of
this plot, who has given to the authors of this machination
the secrets of his Bureau to substitute me for a wretch.
"If I have the misfortune not to be listened to by the chief
of my country, my precautions are taken to call upon the
chief of my house, the suzerain of the Esterhazy family, the
Emperor of Germany. He is a soldier, and will know how
to place the honour of a soldier, even an enemy, above mean
and suspicious political intrigues.
"He will dare to speak loud and strong, to defend the
honour of six generations of soldiers.
"It is for you, Mr. President of the Republic, to judge if
you are to force me to carry the question on this ground.
An Esterhazy fears nothing and no one, except God. Noth-
ing and no one will prevent my acting as I say, if I am sacri-
ficed to I do not know what miserable political combina-
"I am with the most profound respect, etc.,
"Chief of Infantry Battalion."
"The next morning or days following, as the President of
the Republic had not replied, they made me write the letter
about the document liberateur.
"October 31st, 1897.
"M. President of the Republic,
"1 have the regret to state that neither the Chief of State
nor the Chief of the Army has given me a word of support,
encouragement or consolation in reply to a superior officer
who places his threatened honour in their hands. I know
that considerations of parliamentary politics prevent the Gov-
ernment from making a frank and clear declaration placing,
me beyond harm, and stopping forever the defenders of
"I do not wish that the services rendered to France dur-
ing one hundred and sixty years by five general officers whose
name I bear, that the blood shed, that the memory of these
brave people killed in the face of the enemy, the last yet very
recently, that all that should be paid with infamy, to serve
such combinations and save a poor wretch. I am driven to
use all means in my power.
"Now. the generous woman who warned me of the horrible
machination woven against me by the friends of Dreyfus, with
the aid of Colonel Picquart. has been able to procure since,
among other documents, the photograph of a paper that she
succeeded in getting away from this officer. This paper, stolen
in a foreign legation, by Colonel Picquart, is most compromis-
ing for certain diplomatic personalities. If I obtain neithc
support nor justice, and if my name is pronounced, this photo-
graph, which is to-day in a secure place, will be immediately
"Excuse me, Mr. President, for having recourse to this
means, so little in keeping with my character, but remember
that I defend much more than my life, more than my honour,
the honour of a family without spot, and in this desperate
struggle where all supports fail me, where my brain is burst-
ing, I am obliged to make use of all weapons.
"I am, with profound respect, etc.,
"Chief of Infantry Battalion."
Finally, the 5th of November, a third letter : —
Paris, November 5th, 1899.
"M. President of the Republic,
"Excuse me for importuning you a third time, but I fear
the Minister of War has not communicated to you my last
letters, and am anxious that you should know the situation.
It is, besides, the last time that I shall address myself to the
public powers. The woman who has made me an courant with
the odious machination plotted against me has given me,
among others, a paper which is a protection for me, as it
proves the rascality of Dreyfus, and a danger for my coun-
try, because its publication with the fac-simile of the writing
would force France to humiliate itself or to declare war.
"You who are above all party quarrels where my honour
serves as ransom, do not leave me under the necessity of
choosing between two alternatives equally horrible.
"Force the Ponce-Pilate of politics to make a declaration
clear and precise, instead of manoeuvering to preserve the
voices of the friends of Barabbas. All the letters J have writ-
ten will be placed in the hands of one of my relatives, who has
had the honour this summer to be received by two emperors
"What will be thought throughout the world, when the cold
and cowardly cruelty with which I have been left to struggle
in my agony, without support, without counsel, is known ! my
blood will fall on your heads. And when the letter of which
the Government knows is published, and which is one of the
proofs of the guilt of Dreyfus, what will the entire world say
to this miserable Parliamentary tactic, which has prevented
silence being imposed on the pack of hounds by some energetic
"I utter the French cry, 'Haro to me, my prince! To my
rescue!' I address it to you, M. le President, who, before
being the Chief of State, are an honest man, and who ought to
be profoundly moved in the depths of your soul by the cow-
ardice that you see.
"Let them defend me, and I will send back the paper to the
Minister of War without any one in the world having laid
eyes on it; but should they not defend me — for I can wait no
longer — I will shrink at nothing to defend and avenge my
honour so shamefully sacrificed.
"I am, etc.,
The three letters were odious. What can be thought,
in fact, of an officer trying to exercise over the Chief
of State a real extortion by this threat of recourse to a
foreign sovereign, and to divulge secrets of a nature
to bring about international complications I
They were odious in still another point of view; for
they conveyed the idea that the document which Es-
terhazy claimed to have in his possession had been
taken from the Minister of War by Mr. Picquart, and
stolen from his house by a woman. The object was
to ruin the Colonel, and soon after, they tried to fur-
ther compromise him by sending to Picquart's address
in Tunis two false telegrams, one signed "Blanche,"
the other *'Speranza"; but, in fact, they reached Mad-
ame X, one of his friends, and unjustly aroused sus-
picions which had grave consequences for her.
M. Du Paty de Clam knew, however, — if we can
believe General Roget and Commandant Cuignet —
what to think about the delivery of the "document
General Roget said: —
"For myself, I am persuaded that the paper, called 'docu-
ment liberateur,' was given to Esterhazy by Du Paty.
"I am persuaded, also, that it is a paper which he had kept
from the trial of 1894.
"I recall, to establish this assertion, the following facts :
"When the newspapers, at the beginning of the Esterhazy
affair, began to speak of the paper in question, the following
conversation took place in the offices of General Gonse, be-
tween the General, Henry, and Du Paty.
"General Gonse asked what could be the paper of which
Esterhazy spoke, and they tried to imagine what it was about,
when Du Paty said incidentally, "Unless it is the paper. "That
scoundrel of a D. . .' " Now, neither General Gonse, nor
Henry, nor any one would have thought naturally of this
"Henry even said immediately: 'What could he do with that
paper? And in what way would it establish his innocence.'
"It was the astonishment expressed by Henry in this in-
stance which made me remember it when I reminded him of it
in making my examination; and I obtained confirmation of it
from General Gonse."
Commander Cuignet: "The veiled woman is not other than
"M. du Paty knew what to beheve also in regard to the
letters themselves, sent to the President of the Republic."
Listen to the official report of the confrontation
which took place between him and Esterhazy the 24th
of August, 1898, before the Examining Council pre-
sided over by General Florentin.
"The witness (Du Paty de Clam). Esterhazy wished to
write to the Emperor of Germany ; I told him that he had
better write to the President of the Republic, who was the
father of all the French people. This letter, I know it as I took
a copy of it later at the Ministry of War. Esterhazy told me
that it had been dictated to him,
"M. Esterhazy. — I want the Lieutenant-Colonel to tell who
dictated it to me.
"The Witness. — Ah! I do not know! Would you say that
it was I?
"M. Esterhazy.— Tell the truth.
"The Witness. — It was not I.
"M. Esterhazy. — Then, how did matters transpire?
"The Witness. — He wanted to look for foreign aid, from his
relatives, and to ask the German Emperor through them if he
had ever had relations with him, and to beg him to defend his
honour as a member of an order of which this sovereign was
"M. Esterhazy. — That is it ! I called upon the German
Emperor as a vassal. Having decided to commit suicide, I
wished first to call on all those who had any interest in de-
fending an Esterhazy.
"The Witness. — Yes, it was then that I turned him away
from this idea, and made him write to the President of the
"The President. — But these letters contained a sentiment of
"The Witness. — In my opinion. Esterhazy was then in a
rather queer mental condition. I saw the letter at the Min-
istry, and told him that this letter, which he declared had been
dictated to him, was crazy. Certainly it was not I who dictated
it to him.
"The President. — But then who did dictate it to him? And
furthermore, if it was dictated to him, what could have been
his state of mind when drawing up this letter?
"The Witness. — It was not I. Esterhazy was admirably in-
formed; but everything that he was told was of a nature to
discourage him. They wished, he said, to ruin above all Du
Paty and General de Boisdeffre. As to making known to the
Council if my relations with Esterhazy were ordered or were
only a personal affair, I refuse to reply before Esterhazy.
"The President. — In any case, what did you do personally,
and in what measure were you a party to the matter?
"The Witness. — As far as relates to the articles for the
newspapers, he was assisted in his reply to the article 'Vidi.'
I even corrected the reply.
"The President. — He did not act alone then, but with the
help of officers in the active army ?
"The Witness. — Yes.
"The President. — We need to know in what measure he
was guided, and therefore, responsible.
"The Witness. — Esterhazy never knew that he was defended
by the General Stafif, but only by individuals ; I was one of
those most interested in the manifestation of truth, and that
is why I helped him. I did not see the letter to the President
of the Republic until I saw it at the ^Ministry, after it had been
"The President. — You approved of sending this letter?
"The Witness. — Yes ; and I gave him the framework or sub-
stance. But, after having read the letter, I found fault with
"M. Esterhazy. — But, then, tell the truth! Say how these
letters were dictated !
"The Witness. — I say that I do not know.
"The President. — Was it you who inspired what the threat
"The Witness. — He spoke to me of writing it.
"The President. — You do not know who dictated it !
"The Witness.— No.
"The President to Esterhazy. — Where were they written?
"Esterhazy. — One back of the Caulaincourt bridge; another
at the Invalides bridge; I do not know where the third was
written. I wrote them with a pencil at the dictation of some
one; I recopied them quietly at home.
"The President to Esterhazy — Do you know if Du Paty
knew this some one?
"Esterhazy. — Yes; the colonel knew him.
"The Witness. — I knew him; I do not say that I did not;
not being a sneak. Besides, I only knew from Esterhazy that
they had been dictated to him.
"Esterhazy. — I beg the colonel to say that he knew the
author of the letter — that he knew his as well as I did; that
it is absolutely exact that these letters were dictated by some
one he knew, as well as the article 'Dixi' (in the Libre Parole).
"The President to the Witness. — I ask you the question.
"The Witness. — I have said all that I had to say.
"The President. — Then, if you only knew it from Esterhazy,
it is not your testimony. You only repeat the assertions of
"The Witness. — It is impossible that the article 'Dixi' should
have been done by Esterhazy; therefore, it was given him.
"The President. — That is not testimony, but an opinion. We
do not need it.
"The Witness. — I have nothing to say.
"The President. — To resume or sum up, you aided Com-
mandant Esterhazy. Was it on your initiative?
"The Witness. — I do not wish to say before Esterhazy.
"The President. — Does Esterhazy lie in saying that the letter
was dictated to him ?
"The Witness. — He does not lie . . . or rather . . .
I withdraw what I said.
"Esterhazy. — I assert that the article was brought to me all
written, and that the letters were dictated to me.
"The Witness — I am sure that he tells the truth as far as
the article is concerned. As for the letters, I do not know.
. . . I do not dare to confirm the statement of the Com-
mandant Esterhazy. Was it on your initiative?
Du Paty de Clam had then taken an undeniable part
in the drawing up of the three letters, which, instead
of bringing upon their signer an immediate punish-
ment, had a contrary result — to make him obtain the
satisfaction he desired.
This satisfaction was granted him by the publica-
tion of an official note, through the Agence Havas
(News Agency) on November 9th (the last letter was
dated the 5th). The President of the Council and the
Minister of War informed the Council of the intention
of MM. Castelin and Mirman, deputies, to put them a
question relative to the polemics of the Press engaged
in the Dreyfus affair. M. Meline and General Billot
indicated to the Council the reply that they made;
''Captain Dreyfus has been regularly and justly con-
demned by the Council of War. The condemnation is
in force with its full effect; it can only be modified or
weakened by a degree for revision, etc."
Esterhazy, finding himself covered by this confirma-
tion of the guilt of Dreyfus, returned on the 14th. the
paper which he had threatened to use; and the Chief of
the Cabinet of the Minister of War, merelv acknowl-
edged the receipt of it on the i6th.
But on the i6th M. Mathieu Dreyfus, brother of the
condemned, publicly denounced him as the author of
The same day Esterhazy wrote to General Billot:
"M. Minister, I read in the journals this morning the in-
famous accusation brought against me. I ask you to cause an
investigation, and I hold myself in readiness to reply to all
An investigation was, in fact, ordered, and confided
to General de Pellieux.
What is, from this moment, the attitude of Henry
and Paty de Clam?
"In the last days of October I received from Colonel Du
Paty de Clam a grille intended for correspondence either
with him or Colonel Henry in case of need; it is that seized
by M. Bertulus.
"November i6th, I read in the morning the denunciation of
M. Mathieu Dreyfus.
"I go at once to the Governor of Paris and inform him
that I shall at once demand an investigation of the Minister.
"There I am notified that General de Pellieux will be
charged with the investigation; this inquest is opened; my
cousin arrived suddenly, and I was foolish enough to use
him as intermediary; but the real intermediary during all this
time has been Mde. Pays. After the beginning of the inquest,
I was informed every evening of what had been done through
the day; I would call attention to the fact that results of an
inquest cannot be communicated to ofificers of a grade so low
as Colonel Henry and Colonel Du Paty occupied; they can
only be communicated to general officers; General de Pellieux
could not inform his officers of an inferior grade of his in-
vestigations. Therefore, the results of this inquest were
transmitted to me regularly only under the form of prescrip-
tion, of what I must say when questioned. I received every
day written prescriptions, and I transmitted myself observa-
tions and remarks intended as replies to the communications
made to me.
"I had received the order to burn these notes as they were
received; so I burnt a great many.
"Most fortunately and without saying anything to me
about it, Mme. Pays put several of them aside.
"Here is one which was among the papers remitted to the
'concierge'; it is a note which Colonel du Paty has admitted
to come from him.
"At that time I had written that it was necessary that all
officers, at least the principal ones who had been mixed up
in the Dreyfus affair, should come to testify before the Gen-
eral. Colonel du Paty had received a summons, and, before
appearing, he wrote me the note in question.
"This note proves that all evidence given before General de
Pellieux, was made in accordance with my wishes: —
" 'In case General de Pellieux should ask me if I have had
any relations with you, I have the intention to tell him this,
which is perceptibly true: As soon as we were informed
anonymously of the plot against Commander Esterhazy, I
realized the importance of warning him so as to prevent some
desperate act. So I put myself in communication with him
by means which I wish to keep secret, so as not to compro-
mise third parties, to whom I am tied by my word of honour.
I may say, however, that the veiled lady is totally ignorant of
these relations. My relations with Commander Esterhazy
have had for effect to prevent him from taking extreme
measures, for he had been warned on his side. As soon as
I knew that he had in his possession a secret document, all
my efforts tended towards making him give it up, in appeal-
ing to his patriotic sentiments; and I must say that I suc-
ceeded in this without any difficulty. So my intervention has
served to moderate an exasperation. I have abstained from
getting him to communicate anything of a secret character.
The information of that sort which he may have had he re-
ceived from another source. I know nothing about the cam-
paign against Picquart.
" 'Besides, General Boisdefifre knows that I have been in
indirect communication with Commander Esterhazy. From
the moment that Commander Esterhazy has had supporters
and a counsel and has written to newspapers, my relations
become useless. As he has taken an engagement with me, I
will release him from his word of honour, if you wish it. For
without that he will think himself obliged to deny the re-
lations, but his word, like mine, will stand.
" 'i°. — As long as you have no official letter from me, you
are not supposed to know me. 2°. — Keep silent with regard
to the relations we have had together. 3°. — Maintain that
these relations had no other object except to encourage you,
to advise moderation and to appeal to your good sentiments
to give up the document, and that they had nothing whatever
to do with the affair of the veiled woman. 4°. — Never have
I divulged anything confidential to you; and it is not I who
have denounced Picquart to you.
'* 'This is the ground upon which I will place myself; bear
well in mind all I mark in red, and destroy. You understand
how important it is to agree perfectly, for you as well as
myself. All is well; the person who has fetched the famous
letters from Picquart, written in an agreed style, is precisely
the author of the telegram signed Blanche, which is in his
handwriting a little disguised.' "
M. Du Paty de Clam admitted before General Re-
nouard, the 9th of September, 1898, that he wrote this
"Q. — . . . Esterhazy has received directions for the exam-
ination which he was to undergo before General de Pel-
lieux. . . .
"A.— Quite so; I told Esterhazy not to speak of our rela-
tions. I told him that I could not see him, and that if he
were interrogated in reference to our interviews, he was to
say he was bound by promises; and if they insisted, he was
to ask to be first of all released from his word of honour.
"Q. — This letter was in two handwritings?
"A. — Yes; I had commenced to write in capitals, and after-
wards I went back to my usual handwriting. This note is
He has recognized it also before the Criminal Cham-
ber, the I2th of January, 1899.
These are the conditions under which the prelimi-
nary enquiry was made by General de Pellieux, who,
among other witnesses, heard Lieutenant Colonel Pic-
quart, called back from Tunis.
An order was given on the 4th of December to make
an enquiry, and this enquiry Commander Ravary, re-
porter to the first Court-Martial, made on the 7th.
We will let Esterhazy speak.
"... The inquiry has commenced more complete, and
was longer and more deailed than the inquiry made by Gen-
eral de Pellieux, but it was made in the same manner — that
is to say, I received every day formal instructions about what
I was to say. Once, to obey my counsel, M. Tezenas (who
at that time did not know what was going on) — I had taken
a step of my own accord — I was told to mind my own busi-
ness. Commander Ravary was called before the General
Staff, where certain documents were communicated to him.
Every day also I was informed of the proceedings of the in-
quiry, and told what I was to say always by the same persons,
either Colonel Henry or Commander Du Paty; but it is quite
evident that these communications concerning the details of
the inquiry, were not made to these officers who were consid-
ered absolutely as witnesses. They were made to the chief
of the General Staff, or, which is more probable, to the head-
clerk of the General Staff, to be remitted to the chief of the
General Staff. It is interesting to me to state that these com-
munications which were made in much higher quarters than
to the officers reaches me the same evening."
We must here insist upon the measures which, in
the offices of the General Staff, at least between Henry
and Du Paty de Clam, had been contrived to save Es-
Perquisitions had been made neither at his house
nor at the house of Mdlle. Pays, his mistress.
It is true that, warned since several weeks, he had
time to take precautions; and he himself, in his letter
to the Minister of War dated October 25th, 1897, dic-
tated by Du Paty de Clam, had anticipated the suspi-
cions which his relations with a foreign military at-
tache and the resemblance of his handwriting and that
of the bordereau might have aroused.
In this letter he had said on one hand: —
"My embarrassed situation is known since a long time
among the Jewish society, my family relations in the diplo-
matic world, my few but very open relations with Colonel de
Schw who has known my parents at Carlsbad, all this
was calculated to make me a victim of this frightful plot."
He had said on the other hand: —
"In one of the documents published in this connection, I
read that the bordereau had been written on tracing paper.
This naturally led me to think that some one had procured
some of my handwriting, and that Dreyfus had used it to
manufacture his occult correspondence, and to turn suspicions
towards me in case of surprise. I did not know Dreyfus;
but, unforunately for me, hy handwriting had been around
at bankers, money-lenders, jewelers, and other people with
whom Dreyfus might be acquainted. Nevertheless, this ex-
planation did not satisfy me. At the time of the duels. Mores,
Cremier Mayer, etc., I received numerous letters from Israel-
ite officers, to whom I replied by a word of thanks. Still,
this explanation did not satisfy me any better, for it was
necessary to have a great deal of my writing to have the
words of the bordereau. I remembered then that in the be-
ginning of 1894, a time I can very well remember for per-
sonal reasons, I received from an officer of the Ministry a
request for circumstantial information on the part taken dur-
ing the campaign of Crimea by the cavalry brigade that my
father commanded. This officer had a work to prepare on the
operations around Eupatoria. I made quite voluminous notes
and sent them to him, although, at his request I did not ad-
dress them to the Ministry. It is possible that they fell un-
der the eyes or into the hands of Dreyfus, either by being
lent to him, or otherwise. It would be easy to find out
through this officer, Capt. Bro."
This method of defence had been suggested to Es-
terhazy by Du Paty de Clam, who recalled having, as
legal police ofhcer, on October i8th, shown the photo-
graph of some words of the bordereau to Dreyfus, who
had replied: '*It seems to me vaguely that this is the
writing of Bro."
In consequence, Esterhazy had sent to Toulouse,
where Captain Bro was not found, a letter and a tele-
gram, on the pretence of asking that officer if he had
not sent him early in 1894, to the house of a friend liv-
ing in the Rue de Lafayette or Rue Chateaudun — M.
Hadamard lives in the Rue Chateaudun — some infor-
mation on the Crimean war. Captain Bro, whom the
letter and telegram finally reached, was absolutely
stupefied, and replied to Esterhazy: "None of my
friends or acquaintances lives in the Rue de Chateau-
dun; not having the honour of knowing you, even by
name, I never asked anything of you, either verbally
or in writing."
Dreyfus, therefore, had never been lent by Captain
Bro the pretended notice, to trace the writing of Es-
But, in the information against Dreyfus, this hy-
pothesis of tracery remained; and that is what, in part
at least, led the experts Belhomme, Couard and Vari-
nard, commissioned November 14th by Commandant
Ravary, to conclude that the bordereau contained "an
awkward imitation of Esterhazy's handwriting," but
"was not his work."
Nevertheless, in the course of the expertise, and not-
withstanding the protection by which he was sur-
rounded, Esterhazy was extremely disturbed, as is
proved by the draft of a letter found in a Japanese vase
at the house of Mdlle. Pays by the Judge of Instruc-
"What must I do later, if the experts refuse to conclude as
you had hoped? Must I ask, as Tezanas wished at first, as is
my right, that" the experts should show the writing to be
trace-work? Why have not Charavay or Varinard, whom you
know decided for me in the Boulancy letter, manifestly a
trick? Belhomme is an idiot; you have only to look at him.
All these people are going to assassinate me. Can it not be
proved, however, to Ravary and the experts that I did not
write the terms of the great letter — the Uhlan letter — to Bou-
lancy? If the experts conclude that the writing is mine, it is
impossible for me, in my defence, not to be forced to show
that Dreyfus is the author of the bordereau. You understand,
then, that if you are really masters of the examination and of
the experts, I can only report absolutely to you, but that, if
that escapes you, as I fear, I am absolutely bound to prove
that the bordereau is traced by Dreyfus from my handwriting."
December 31st Commandant Ravary prepared a re-
port, and, alluding to the schemes practiced not by
those who, like Henry and Du Paty de Clam, wished
at any price to save Esterhazy, but by those who, with
the Dreyfus family, tried to obtain the revision of the
trial of 1894, he finished by these words:
"To sum up, what remains of this sad affair, so wisely
planned? A painful impression will have a sad echo in all
truly French hearts. Of the actors in the scene, some came
to the front, and others remained in the corridors, but all the
means used had the same object, the revision of a judgment
legally and justly rendered."
The Council of War, before which Mme. Dreyfus
wished to intervene, rejected the argument presented
by her counsel, saying:
In that which concerns Madame Dreyfus:
Whereas the Council of War is not engaged in the
afifair of ex-Captain Dreyfus, upon which it has justly
and legally decided.
That the Council of War cannot admit Madame
Dreyfus as party for the plaintiff at the debates with-
out breaking its rules ;
That in case of closed doors the Council cannot au-
thorize Madame Dreyfus, any more than her counsel,
to take part in the debates.
From the moment when it declared the guilt of
Dreyfus to be "justly and legally decided," the Council
of War could only acquit Esterhazy.
This was done January nth, 1898.
On the 1 2th Esterhazy wrote to a General that he
did not wish to name, a letter, of which the draft was
seized by M. Bertulus:
"My General, I write you to express very badly — for I do
not find words to express to you what I feel — all the profound,
all the infinite gratitude that I have in my heart for you. If I
have not succumbed in this monstrous campaign, it is to you,
and you alone, that I owe it."
THE TALE OF FORGERIES.
From the Report of M. Ballotin Beaupre.
The Henry forgery was not the last of which Drey-
fus had to complain.
Two others have yet to be mentioned.
M. Cavaignac, the 7th of July, 1898, had — besides
the Henry forgery — indicated with the paper, "This
scoundrel of D ," as proof of guilt, a letter
(of the secret dossier), on the subject of which Com-
mandant Cuignet explained himself before the Crim-
inal Chamber of the Court of Cassation.
This paper is an authentic letter, written with black pencil on
paper "quadrille," by Agent B. . .to Agent A. . . Its
text is as follows :
"My very dear friend, I finished by calling the doctor, who
forbade me to go out. So not being able to go to you to-mor-
row, I beg you to come to me in the morning, as D has
brought me many interesting things, and we must share the
work, having only ten day's time. Try then to tell (sic.) to
. . . that you cannot go up.
"Sincerely yours, (Signature)."
What constitutes the suspicious character of this letter,
which bears the date of March, 1894 (date of the Information
Department), is that the initial D appears to cover another
initial or capital letter which has been erased with rubber.
Further, the space which separates this initial from the first
letter of the following word appears to me to be an absolutely
unusual distance, when one limits himself to putting only an
It seems to me that this space had been filled by letters fol-
lowing the capital letter which seemed to have been erased.
Also the three dots which follow the letter D. .. seem large
and bent, much larger in any case than the punctuation points
in the authentic text.
Finally, by examining the paper with a magnifying glass, it
appears that the near quadrillage of the letter which seemed lo
have been rubbed out, had also been touched by the eraser,
which confirms my opinion that a rubber had been used to
erase a letter or a word.
It also seems to me, in continuing my examination with the
glass, that the points following the initial "D" cover letters of
which I perceive some traces without being able to reconstruct
For these different reasons, the paper, of which the whole of
the text is authentic, appears eminently suspicious.
M. Bertillon examined this document. He recog-
nized there, like Commandant Cuignet, "an erasure or
rubbing out, followed by retouches." He believes,
however, that under the capital '*D" was alreadv an-
By whom then were these alterations made? It is
evident that some one wished to fraudulently create a
new charge against Dreyfus.
That is also what some one wished to do with the
paper (forty-four of the secret dossier), which gave rise
to three depositions by the Secretary of the Embassy
— M. Paleologue. On November 2d, 1894, at four
minutes past three in the afternoon, when the arrest of
Dreyfus had, since the morning of the day before, been
announced by the Press, a cipher despatch, placed in
the telegraph-ofifice of the Rue Montaigne, was ad-
dressed to the Government by a military attache. The
tracing was taken at the Administration of Telegraphs
on thin bank post paper, giving the complete repro-
duction of the original, which was sent back to the
telegraph oiBce of the Rue Montaigne, to be the fol-
lowing year, delivered to the Ministry of Postes and
telegraphs and destroyed, in conformity to the rules.
No doubt of its authenticity is possible. No doubt
either of its translation. This is what results from the
report by Messrs. Chamoin and Commandant Cuig-
net, delegates of the Ministry of War, and M. Paleo-
logue, Secretary of Embassy, delegate of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs. The translation, made together
by the three delegates mentioned, brought out the fol-
lowing version: *Tf Captain Dreyfus has not had
relations with you, it would be well to charge the Am-
bassador to publish an official denial, in order to avoid
the comments of the press."
But, in the beginning, the key of the cipher was not
known ; they hesitated on the last words ; and the Min-
ister of Foreign Affairs had given to the Information
Department, under all reserves, a first version, which
finished thus, "official denial, our emissary warned." A
few days after, the Chief of the Office, Colonel Sand-
herr, received the exact version ''Official denial, in
order to avoid the comments of the press."
This definite wording M. Paleologue declared to
have ''seen in the hands of Colonel Sandherr and to
have spoken to him of it at different times."
But, at the Ministry of War, they have no longer,
either the second version or even the first; both have
And M. Paleologue said before the Criminal Cham-
ber, January 9th :
"The last days of April or the first days of May, 1898,
Colonel Henry came to see me at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and asked me, with a slightly embarrassed air, if I
could procure for him a copy of a telegram of November 2,
1891. I did not understand his question very well at first
and I replied: 'But you have it — that document! I saw it in
the hands of Sandherr; what has become of it?' Henry
answered: 'I do not know; we do not find it. The papers of
the dossier have been scattered about in several safes. In
short we haven't it any longer.'
"I replied to him that it did not belong to me to give him a
document of that nature, and that he had only to request it at
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Minister of War.
He asked me then if I could not at least let him have a copy
non-ofHcially. My reply was that the writing of an agent of
foreign afifairs would give this piece an air of authenticity that
I was not qualified to give. 'Anyhow,' I added. 'I have
recited this telegram to you so many times that I can recite
it once more. You are free to write it from my dictation.'
"He took a pencil and a sheet of paper, and wrote from
my dictation the words that I indicated. The interview fin-
What became of the writing dictated to Henry by M. Paleo-
logue is not known.
What is certain is that General Gonse, not being
able to obtain from the Ministry of Posts and Tele-
graphs even the original, which, in conformity with
the rules, had been destroyed in 1895, and not wishing
to have only a certified copy of the tracing taken on
the thin bank post-paper, called on M. du Paty de
Clam in May, 1895, to reconstruct the wording of the
telegram ; and it is the paper No. 44 of the secret dos-
sier: "Captain Dreyfus is arrested; the Minister of
War has the proof of his relations with Germany; all
my precautions are taken."
M. Peleologue testified on March 29th. before the
assembled Chambers, that his conscience and his in-
structions obliged him to say that no error of memory
could justify the differences which existed between
the wording in question and the wording preserved at
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "The piece No. 44 is
not only erroneous, it is false.''
This was another fraud, due to the collaboration of
Henry and Du Paty de Clam, and intended to be a
weapon against Dreyfus, of a cipher despatch which
on the contrary was favourable to him, as it proved
that the signer did not know him.
What motives then determined these two men to
thus persecute the condemned of 1894?
For Henry, a sentiment of personal interest already
shown, and perhaps an unavowed complicity which
bound his cause to that of Esterhazy.
He said in his defence:
"In reality, there is only one motive in my intervention in
Esterhazy's behalf. It consists in the considerations that
General Gonse pointed out to me when he revealed the Ester-
hazy affair to me; considerations of exterior order, that I ex-
posed to the Court without making them in writing, con-
siderations of an anterior order, which exist, in spite of what
General Roget says, in pretending that I hide myself behind
them, considerations the nature of which is known, and of
which no denial can prevent the existence. In closing, I will
say how much I am saddened to have been abandoned by my
chiefs. Never would I have believed that General Gonse
would disown me after having pushed me ahead. Never
would I have believed that a former Minister, after telling me
'You have rendered a great service to the country,' would
leave my call without response. Never would I have be-
lieved that a general to whom I devoted myself without re-
serve would have abandoned me after having said to me, 'Dur-
ing my lifetime you will never be sacrificed.' While only
my military personality and my career was touched, I re-
mained in the greatest vis-a-vis my chiefs. To-day they at-
tack my honour by an officer who dares to attack his su-
periors in the most inconceivable manner, and accuse me for
long months of things about which I have never been ques-
tioned. One can believe that my indignation is great. But,
nevertheless, in the interest of my country, I only defend my-
self in the measure strictly necessary to explain my
The acts are, and the revolution destroys all faith
due to the known judgment in 1894.
If Dreyfus was condemned, it was because Henry,
as delegate of the Minister, brought to the Council of
War an impassioned deposition from the Information
Department. It is because Du Paty de Clam, after
having inquiry produced in the confusion, brought to
bear upon the debates an ardour of which Dreyfus
Their testimony is vitiated by the long series of in-
defensible manoeuvres they practised to assure the ac-
quittal of Esterhazy.
COLONEL PICQUARPS VINDICATION OF
(From the Report of M. Ballot Beaupre.)
It is painful to be obliged to emphasize the criminal
perversion of one who wore the uniform of our army,
and who without doubt, under other conditions, would
have worn it with honour. It is painful that even his
death has not been able to protect his memory by the
charity of silence. But the demands of truth and jus-
tice do not allow of this. The crime committed by
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry has had a bearing upon the
entire Ester hazy case; and how could it have been
otherwise? If it had ended in the demonstration of
Esterhazy's guilt, there was at the Ministry of War a
document the falsity of which would have been at
once apparent to the Minister and the Generals. In
this document Dreyfus was plainly designated. And,
in connection with his case, if Esterhazy had been
found guilty, Henry, as Chief of the Service, would
have been compromised and doubtless dishonoured.
But, as far as Dreyfus is concerned, do not the false
documents constitute a new fact, which, in breaking
up the accusation, establishes his innocence? Was
Henry a witness of no importance in the Dreyfus af-
fair? And if his deposition was one of the most seri-
ous, was it at the same time sincere and veracious? We
would fain believe so, but can we?
This is the same man who, knowing himself to be
bearing false witness, accuses others and gives the lie
direct to Lieutenant- Colonel Picquart. He is the man
who, while the Minister exhorts him to tell the truth,
swears eight consecutive times that he did not commit
Well, and what role does he play before the Court-
Martial which condemns Dreyfus? Major Henry was
delegated to bring forward, on behalf of the Minister,
confidential information, which could, should it so
happen, supplement the data of the examination. If
any deposition was of supreme importance, assuredly
it was this. There is more, and this is decisive:
"It is certain, says the Keeper of the Seals, that the bor-
dereau found in 1894 by du Paty de Clam in the hands of
General Gonse, sub-chief of the General StafT, had been
brought to this general officer by Lieutenant-Colonel Henry,
at the time chief of battalion and sub-chief of the Bureau of
And again, at the time of his arrest, on Aug. 30th,
1896, Lieutenant-Colonel Henry declared to General
Roget, chief of stafif of the Minister of War, that it
was to him that an agent, unnamed, had brought the
bordereau, it having come, he added, by the "usual
channel (la voie ordinaire).''
And so the origin of the bordereau has for its only
guarantee the word of Henry, the fabricator of false
documents: and when one hears the experts give the
opinion that this particular document was forged, one
cannot help having many anxious doubts. As long as
all was unknown, one had confidence in the justice of
the verdict. But as revelations have come to light, a
cloud of objections have arisen, and a deep uneasiness
has weighed upon many a conscience. Lieutenant
Colonel Picquart had, on behalf of the Minister of
War, taken part in the session of the Dreyfus trial.
As chief of the information service, he conducted
the subsequent inquiries, and he was able on all
these points to inform himself exhaustively. Finally
he made, with the consent of the government, an
expose of the circumstances which seemed to bring in
question the stability of the verdict of 1894. This in-
formation was addressed in confidence to the Minister
of Justice, and it is fitting that the communication in
question be brought to your knowledge.
Letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Picquart to the Min-
ister OF Justice^ Keeper of the Seals.
Paris, September 14th, 1898.
I have the honour to indicate to you the reasons upon
which I base my deep and firm conviction of the innocence
First, I give a summary of these reasons; I shall pass later
to the detailed development of each of them in turn.
L — Dreyfus was arrested solely upon the suspicion of hav-
ing written the bordereau. When the bordereau came into the
hands of the bureau of information, it was supposed a priori
and unjustly, that, in view of the documents enumerated
therein, it could have been written only by an officer of the
ministry, preferably by an artillery officer, and the handwrit-
mgs of the officers of the general staff were compared with
that of the bordereau.
After some hesitation, it was found that the writing of
Dreyfus bore a likeness to that of the bordereau.
Dreyfus had never been suspected before; no previous
supervision had admitted the suspicion of temptations, of
questionable relations, of the need of funds; it had merely
been remarked that he evinced a tendency to inquire indis-
creetly into what was going on about him. But this tendency
is not inexplicable in the case of an officer on probation who
is attached to the General Staff of the Army for purposes of
self instruction, and who finds in his position a unique oppor-
tunity for familiarizing himself with out military organi-
The writing of the bordereau bears merely a resemblance to
that of Dreyfus. On the other hand, it is identical with that
of Esterhazy. The documents specified in the bordereau are,
as a rule, of no small value. Dreyfus, had he been inclined
to treason, could have supplied himself much more. More-
over, the documents in question bear no relation to the par-
ticular ones which Dreyfus had in hand at the time the bor-
dereau was written,
B. Admitting Dreyfus to be its author, certain phrases in
the bordereau are inexplicable, for example, the following,
"Provided you do not wish that I should have it copied in
extenso." Dreyfus had no secretary at his disposition; Ester-
hazy, as Major, had one. Here is a point which can readily
be understood, admitting the bordereau to be the work of
II. — When Dreyfus was arrested, in an attempt to lend his
dossier more weight, a secret dossier was made up, and this
was communicated to the judges of the court martial. Not
one of these documents is applicable to Dreyfus.
III. — It has not been possible to arrive at the motives by
which Dreyfus was actuated; he had never manifested un-
patriotic feelings; he possessed a fortune, he had a home, he
led a regular life.
IV. — Dreyfus has always protested his innocence, and more-
over the alleged confession made by Captain Lebrun-Renault
was nothing more than the result of an interested move on
the part of his enemies.
V. — An attempt has been made to prove that Dreyfus was
continually in a position to lay hands upon the documents
mentioned in the bordereau. These documents were never
thoroughly investigated when I was attached to the Ministry.
They came altogether or nearly so, from Du Paty de Clam,
and were generally passed without any supervision. More-
over, they had no value.
VI. — The chiefs. Generals Billot, de Boisdefifre, and Gonse,
have never raised an objection to any of the facts to which I
drew their attention, with the exception of the false document
brought to the Ministry of Colonies at the beginning of Sep-
tember, 1896, and the false document assigned to Henry
which made its appearance at the end of October or the be-
ginning of November of the same year.
VII. — Henry and du Paty de Clam have employed the most
culpable measures to emphasize the guilt of Dreyfus and the
innocence of Esterhazy.
I now~take up in detail each of the paragraphs numbered
And Lieutenant-Colonel Picquart then proceeds to
develop each of the paragraphs which we have just
indicated. We are obliged to confine ourselves to the
reading of the most interesting portions :
When it became clear that there were no other charges
against Dreyfus but that of the bordereau, documents which
might be applicable to him were sought for among those of
the service of information, and of these was formed a dossier,
which I propose to consider in detail.
This dossier, which had been locked up in the file belonging
to Henry towards the close of December, 1894, and which I
received from the hands of Gribelin towards the close of
December, 1896, was divided into two parts. The first, which
had been communicated to the judges in the council chamber,
was composed of four documents, accompanied by an ex-
planatory commentary, made up, as Colonel Sandherr assured
me, by du Paty de Clam. The second part of the dossier was
of small value. It comprised seven or eight documents in all
— to specify, several photographs, the secret documents, and
several documents of no importance, having more or less
reference to those of the first part.
I propose to take up in succession the documents of the
first part, indicating so far as memory will admit, the terms
of the commentary. For the rest, I maintain that my memory
of these facts is very vivid, by reason of the profound impres-
sion made upon me by the sight of this dossier.
First document (torn in pieces, and when put together) : a
letter with a note written by a person whom we will designate
by the initial "A," probably to his superiors. It was "A's"
custom to sketch such plans, which he threw in to the paper
basket. This letter, written in a foreign language, was of the
close of the year 1893 or 1894. I believe it authentic. It was
worded, or approximately worded as follows:
"Doubts what to do? Let him show his officer's certifi-
cate. What has he to fear? What can he supply? There is
no interest in maintaining relations with an infantry officer."
The simple common-sense shows that the author of this
sketch had received propositions from an individual calHng
himself an officer; that he had some doubts as to the oppor-
tunity he was given of entering into relations with the latter,
and that it concerned someone who was in the infantry.
The text, in a foreign language was faithfully translated in
the commentary of du Paty de Clam, but he drew theref'-oni
a most unexpected inference:
"A finds," says du Paty, "that there is no advantage in
maintaining relations with infantry officers. He selects rather
a Staff Officer, and takes one attached to the ministry." This
commentary enables one to note the treacherous spirit by
which du Paty de Clam was actuated.
Second document: This was an authentic letter from (a
person whom we designate by B) B to A, dating from the
early part of 1894; it had been torn and then put together, and
was worded approximately as follows: "I desire to have some
information upon a question of recruiting." This last refer-
ence, continues Lieutenant-Colonel Picquart, is to a matter
which was not absolutely confidential. "I shall ask Da-
vignon" (then sub-chief of the second division), "but he will
tell me nothing. Therefore ask your friend, Davignon must
not know of it, because he should not learn that we are work-
That you may understand this matter, it should be said that
the foreign military attaches went about once a week to the
second division, where, at this time, they were informed very
freely about everything which was not confidential. The
officers of the second division even complained of working
more for the foreign attaches than for the General Staff.
The commentator says: "At the time when B wrote to A,
Dreyfus was in the second division. Evidently it is he whom
B designates as the friend of A." This comment is absurd. In
the first place nothing has ever admitted the proof that A had
relations with Dreyfus. Even if we admit that the bordereau
is the work of the latter, nothing in any event indicates that
this friend was Dreyfus, nor who it was that furnished secret
documents to A. B dwells too lightly on that point, above
all when he says "Davignon must not know of it" — that is
equivalent to saying that the friend might be the chief of
division, might be du Paty himself, who had an understand-
ing with A, might be the chief of the foreign section at that
particular time. All these officers were on excellent terms
with A, and would not have hesitated to give so futile a piece
of information as the one in question.
The third document was an authentic letter from B to A,
dated 1894. It had been torn and then put together. B said
approximately: "I have seen this blackguard D . He gave
me for you some dozen plans."
The commentator says: "It was proved whether the plans
were in their place. They were. It was not proved whether
the plans of the First Division were also. It is allowable to
believe that Dreyfus had taken those of the First Division and
had loaned them for the time being to B, to be forwarded to
A. As a matter of fact, Dreyfus was attached to the First
Division in 1893. He worked in the room where these plans
were kept, and since that time the combination of the locks
had not been changed."
This accusation is monstrous in the eyes of any one know-
ing the routine of the offices of the General Stafif. In the first
place twelve plans make up a considerable package, and in
the vaults of the First Division their disappearance must have
been instantly noticed. How can we admit that Dreyfus, who
since a year was no longer attached to the First Division,
could penetrate there and possess himself of such a package,
an act which was all the more dangerous in that the vault in
question was one of those often visited? How can we admit
that, always unperceived, he could have carried ofT this pack-
age, when at the same time he had in his possession a quantity
of other documents also of interest to A?
It may be remarked that nothing in the letter from B to A
mentions the necessity of returning the documents, and that
is why I am inclined to believe that they might have been
taken from the Geographical Service, where it would have
been possible to abstract them without too much difficulty.
Whereas in the First Division, the thing is entirely
As regards the initial D, that suggests nothing. Foreign
powers do not designate spies by the actual initial. I myself
know a spy whose real name is C; he introduced himself to
the foreigners under the name of L and by them he is called
N. Finally the letter D could not be applied to a man having
from the point of view of espionage, the importance of
All the objections which I have enumerated, I made to my
superiors, and Major Henry, and they were not able to deny
their value. They accounted for much, I believe, in the origin
of the false Henry document, where Dreyfus was named in
full. I am not able to speak here except as my memory
serves me, for there are some points which remain obscure.
I earnestly urge that they be brought to my attention and
that mention be made of the objections which may arise. I
investigated all these documents thoroughly two years ago,
with a complete understanding of the case, and I did not
arrive at my absolute conviction of their inanity from the
point of view of Dreyfus's guilt, until I had examined the
question from all sides.
If one admits that these documents were able to decide the
uncertain opinion of the judges of the Court-Martial of 1894,
one must confess, that when the latter emerged from a debate
of four days, which had greatly disturbed them, that they
were searching for a clear and intelligible idea upon which to
rely after the convinced discussions of the experts, and that
they discovered this in the notes upon the dossier, whose
origin was new, and in which they placed complete trust.
Then as they may not have been able to take account of the
value of the documents which might be new for them, they
accepted the explanations given them without suspecting the
trap which their loyalty prevented them from perceiving. And
further on, when at the end of August, 1896, the investigation
upon Esterhazy and the secret dossier had convinced them of
the innocence of Dreyfus. I made a report to General de
Boisdefifre, who authorised me to explain these matters to
Colonel X ; he, however, told me to take into account a
forged document of which I will speak later on, which had
come in at the commencement of September, 1896, to the Min-
ister of Colonies. He asked me also to weigh the evidence of
the forged Henry document, but he never brought forward
any other objections. In fine, he was absolutely opposed to
revision and to proceedings against Esterhazy, without being
convinced of the absolute guilt of Dreyfus.
I said as much to General Billot, who for some time be-
lieved in the innocence of Dreyfus, and whose belief in his
guilt was founded on the forged Henry document. He had
always believed in the guilt of Esterhazy during the time that
I was attached to the Ministry. So far as General Gonse,
with whom I was able to speak freely, is concerned, I think I
may enter upon some details. When, by order of General de
Boisdeffre I went on September 3rd, 1896, to report to General
Gonse the report of my enquiry on the subject of Esterhazy
and Dreyfus, the General listened to my reasons and did not
dispute them. He merely made a face and said to me, "Well
then, we have been mistaken !" Then he instructed me not to
concern myself with this matter. The letter of September,
1896, shows clearly that he brought forward no affirmation
adverse to mine. At the time of his return to Paris on
September 15th, he was still more explicit. I think I can
repeat word for word the conversation I had with him on
this subject, and which will never be effaced from my memory.
The General.— What business is it of yours if this Jew is
on the He du Diable?
R. — But if he is innocent?
G.— How do you expect to go all over this trial again? It
would be the most shocking story. General Mercier and
General Saussier are both tangled up in it.
R._But, General, he is innocent, and that should be enough
to revise the case. But, from another point of view, you know
that his family are at work. They are searching everywhere
for the true culprit, and if they find him, what will be our
G. — If you say nothing, no one will ever know.
R. — General, what you say is contemptible. I do not know
what I shall do, but in any event I shall not allow this secret
to be buried with me. And I left him instantly. From that
moment I understood clearly the situation.
Once again General Gonse spoke to me of the guilt of
Dreyfus apropos of the forged Henry document. Several
days before General de Boisdeffre and General Gonse asked
me if the Minister had made any special communication to
me. Finally, one morning, the Minister told me he had a
letter of B showing the guilt of Dreyfus. As I went out I
met General Gonse, who said to me : "Well, are you con-
vinced?" I replied: "Not at all," and I told him that it was a
forged document, to which he replied: "When a minister tells
me something I always believe it."
In brief, my superiors never disputed openly the innocence
of Dreyfus ; and they never brought forward but that one
empty proof of his guilt — the alleged avowals. For four
months I was engaged upon an enquiry upon Esterhazy with-
out any incident arising to interfere with my investigation.
But from the day when I reported to General de Boisdeffre
that Esterhazy was the author of the bordereau, there arose a
series of plots against Dreyfus and myself, of which I am the
victim to this very hour; and their principal authors, if not
their actual instigators, I know, can have been only Du Paty
de Clam and Henry — that is to say, the two principal repre-
sentatives for putting in motion the Dreyfus affair. And this,
too, to my way of thinking, is one of the proofs of the empti-
ness of the accusations against Dreyfus. If indeed, proofs of
his guilt had been available, it would not have been necessary
to reinforce them by fraudulent means, nor to attack his de-
fenders. Moreover, the manoeuvres of du Paty de Clam and
Henry commenced from the very outset of the Dreyfus affair.
We note that the first frauds were insignificant, but that they
grew little by little to end by arriving at actual forged docu-
ments. The first manoeuvre was du Paty de Clam's interrup-
tion while Dreyfus was writing. Du Paty de Clam felt it nec-
essary that Dreyfus should seem disturbed while he dictated
the bordereau to him. As he was not disturbed du Paty de
Clam addressed this question to him, "What is the matter
with you? You are trembling!" And this was intended to
take unawares the good faith of the two witnesses — Messieurs
Cochefert and Gribelin. Bad faith is here evident to any one
who was accustomed to matters of this kind. For any one
who is posted on matters of espionage the proof that the
weakness of the dossier was well known, is that it is much
talked of, but not shown, and that General de Boisdeffre never
submitted to the minister in 1889 the documents of which it
was composed. Moreover, the General told me at that time,
while the dossier was still there, that no pains had been spared
during the trial to influence the judges. Colonel Sandherr
told him that he had said to one of the judges: "I give you
my guarantee that he is guilty." On the other hand, Captain
Gallet, one of the judges, was closely associated at this time
with Colonel Henry, who did not fail to post him on his un-
derstanding of the matter. That is how the thing happened.
I was present at all the Session, seated behind the judges.
It was seen that the outlook of the case was somewhat uncer-
tain, and it was resolved to make a bold stroke. Henry said
to me: "As you are seated behind Gallet, tell him to have me
recalled to demand further information from me." As I re-
fused to carry out this commission. Colonel Henry became
angry, and made the communication himself during the ad-
journment of the trial. Captain Gallet brought up the ques-
tion when the session was resumed, and Henry in making his
deposition, said : "We had it from an honorable person that
an officer of the Second Division has betrayed information,
and that officer is there," he added, pointing to Dreyfus. It
was possible to surmise that the person in question had de-
nounced Dreyfus, but that was not so. This person, a foreign
spendthrift, to whom I had paid 1,200 francs for this service,
had said to Henry that the foreign military attaches had
friends in the Second Division from whom they got informa-
tion, and this advice agrees entirely with the actual facts ; for
the foreign military attaches were received at the Second Mil-
itary Division in the most friendly fashion, and there given
all information which it was possible to accord to them.
But Dreyfus was attached to the Second Division simply
as an officer of probation.
The alleged admission to Captain Lebrun-Renault make up
in the same way a manoeuvre, the consequences of which have
been recently felt. From the time of the deportation of Drey-
fus to the He du Diable, what it is proper to call "plots" in-
creased. It was then that the forged Henry document was
discovered at the Ministry of Colonies on the 25th of Septem-
ber, 1887. This forged document was a letter addressed to
Dreyfus, which, as was the case with all the correspondence
particularly personal, passed first through the hands of the
Minister of Colonies, where it was examined. I myself saw
it, the signature was that of one named Veyler. He told
Dreyfus that his daughter was being married. This letter was
written in strange characters resembling a drawing rather than
writing and made to attract the eye. Although for more than
a year I had read all the correspondence addressed to Drey-
fus, I had never seen either this handwriting or this signature.
But what was more serious, between the lines were written
these words with sympathetic ink, sufficiently visible, how-
ever, for one to read them almost entirely: "We do not un-
derstand your comm.unication, specify where are the vaults
containing the — " This letter, which was a most rude forgery,
was intended to start the idea of a counter plot launched by
the friends of Dreyfus, with the intention of substituting a
dummy. I gave it to Monsieur Bertillon, who employed him-
self in having made by one of his employes an astonishingly
accurate facsimile. As I looked at it against the light I
noticed that the grain of the paper was identical with that of
the original. M. Bertillon said to me with a smile — "We
have thought of everything." The facsimile was sent to the
He du Diable in order to see what Dreyfus would do when he
This forged document constitutes the serious fact of which
I spoke to General Gonse in July, 1896.
Influenced by the chain of evidence, I thought for a
moment that this document came really from the friends of
Dreyfus, who, in order to save him, had had recourse to the
most clumsy means. However, upon reflection, it did not
take me long to become convinced of the character of this
document, and I believe that it was Du Paty de Clam who
was its author, since it was to his interest at that moment to
render my work vain.
The idea of the dummy was one of those which Du Paty de
Clam mentioned most frequently. At any rate, at this time
Henry was on leave and could not intervene.
After this document, the false news reported in the press,
particularly the article in the Eclair of September 15th, which
originated certainly with Du Paty de Clam, for in it are entire
phrases which are word for word similar to those which he
uttered before me.
Finally the forged Henry document which is too well-
known for me to emphasize it further, not to mention the ex-
planation recently given by Monsieur Berthulus, Juge d' In-
What it is necessary to remember of all this is that the
guilt of Dreyfus was so uncertain that those in favor of his
condemnation believed it necessary to reinforce it by forged
documents, or to attack by underhand methods the methods
of the prisoner.
In fine, Dreyfus was only arrested because it was unjustly
believed that the bordereau was the work of an officer of the
General Staff. Once arrested, nothing was found against
him, but the accusation of the police reports trumped up
against him for the case, and which could not hold water
before the Court-Martial of 1894.
The reason for attributing the bordereau to Dreyfus was
the similarity of handwriting.
It has never been possible to discover the motive which
would have led him to commit such a crime resulting in in-
The Minister communicated to the judges in the Council
Chamber the secret dossier composed of documents inappli-
cable to Dreyfus, and which could not be brought up against
him unless one admitted the commentaries which accompanied
the dossier, they having been compiled by Du Paty de Clam.
The dossier was never submitted to the examination of the
counsel for the defence. Dreyfus once convicted — attempts
were made to elaborate this dossier, but so far without suc-
cess. In the autumn of 1896, when the inquiry upon Ester-
hazy destroyed the grounds for attributing the bordereau to
Dreyfus and broke down absolutely the accusation made
against him, then it was that the start was made with the
system of the forged documents.
At the time when I left the Ministry, in 1896, there was no
other documents relating to Dreyfus besides those enumer-
ated in the present communication. I demand, that if other
documents have come to light since then, that I be placed in
a position to report upon them. I demand also that all ob-
jections which may be applied to this jReport shall be fully
worked out, and that I be invited to furnish all such supple-
mentary explanations as are necessary to bring the Dreyfus
affair into the full light of day.
In conclusion, Monsieur the Keeper of the Seals, allow me
to express my gratitude. You have given me the opportun-
ity of doing what I have wished to do for two years — to
quieten my conscience by telling the entire truth to one who
is the supreme arbiter of justice, and in consequence one of
the guardians of this country's honour. I beg at the same
time that you will accept the assurance of my deep respect.
THE COMMUNICATION OF SECRET DOCUMENTS
TO THE COURT-MARTIAL OF 1894-
(Letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Picquart to the Keeper of
the Seals, September 15, 1898J
"Monsieur the ICeeper of the Seals^
"I have the honour to send you the supplementary informa-
tion which you asked me to furnish on the subject of the com-
munication of the secret documents to the judges of the Court
Martial which condemned Dreyfus in 1894.
"This communication was well known to all the officers
intimately connected with the Dreyfus affair. I spoke of it
at the time with General Mercier and General de Boisdeffre
and Du Paty de Clam. And later, when I assumed direction
of the Service of Information, I spoke of it to General Gonse
and Colonel Sandherr and Major Henry and to Gribelin, the
Keeper of the Archives. Finally Vallecalle, the recorder of
the first Court Martial, spoke of it to me during the Dreyfus
inquiry in these words:
" 'Was it not you who brought the secret dossier to Colonel
" 'At the same time as I myself was not charged to make
the delivery, I am unable to inform you except by hearsay
and by what I have seen myself; albeit these details are true
as a whole, they should nevertheless be checked.'
" 'How was the delivery made?'
" 'Under sealed enclosure to the president of the Court-
Martial, there was another enclosure containing — first, the
four documents which I have specified in my memoire; sec-
ond, the commentary written by du Paty de Clam on this
matter. There is no doubt whatever about that.'
"When Colonel Sandherr spoke to me of this dossier in
July, 1895, he said; 'the small dossier which was delivered to
the Judges of the Court-Martial is in the iron closet.' When
I asked Gribelin for it, I said to him: 'Give me the dossier
which was delivered to the Judges of the Court Martial and
which is in Major Henry's closet.' He gave it to me immedi-
ately, and in a particular envelope the four documents and the
Commentary. When I showed this dossier to General de
Boisdeffre, he recognised it perfectly and asked why it had
not been burned as before agreed. General Gonse also saw
it in my possession, and we spoke of it as the dossier delivered
to the judges in the council chamber.
"2nd. — By whom was the delivery made? I am not entire-
ly positive of the person who carried the dossier to the Pres-
ident of the Court Martial. It might have been myself; it
might have been du Paty de Clam. This uncertainty may
seem curious, but is nevertheless natural. I had several de-
liveries to make at the time and I was not familiar with the
exact appearance of the dossier in question.
''3rd. — Where was the delivery made? At the Court Mar-
tial at Paris, and it was opened in the council chamber. At
what time? Assuredly after the close of the session. Be-
cause in reporting, the general impression of the deliberation
to the Minister, I said to him that this impression was not
unfavourable to the accused, but that at the time I was speak-
ing the judges should be determined by the secret dossier.
He did not contradict this reference, and moreover this secret
dossier was always a clearly-understood thing at the Ministry.
My declaration might be confirmed by Generals Mercier, de
Boisdefifre and Gonse; Lieutenant Colonel du Paty de Clam,
Gribelin, the keeper of the Archives and the recorder, Valle-
"Such, Monsieur the Keeper of the Seals, are the supple-
mentary explanations which I had to offer you. I take the
liberty of insisting in the same urgent manner that I should
be allowed to furnish details which it is difificult to supply in
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Steevens, George War
The tragedy of Dreyfus,